There’s an interesting and odd trend this winter. Owls generally do not bring out the warm cozy camaraderie in the birding community. If anything it brings out the soapboxes and the worst behavior. You have people on both ends of the spectrum: some people say to not report owl sitings ever because the owls will be disturbed. Then you have people who are excited about seeing an owl and want to share it with everybody and then you have the people who know there’s an owl, what to get an awesome photo no matter the cost to the fellow observers or the birds themselves.
This winter there have been a whole host of arguments on various listservs but what is different is that people are now filming it and putting it on YouTube. Here’s one from Boundary Bay, British Columbia, Canada:
Here’s another at Breezy Point, NY:
Non Birding Bill and I even took a video and photos of a jerk last winter with a huge lens who was among several people watching a saw-whet owl and decided he needed to be all up in that, not only walking in front of everyone but getting to the point of almost flushing the owl.
I don’t want to pin this behavior to just photographers, there are jerk birders too. But is this how we are going to deal with the behavior? Is this the best way?