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rec.birds Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (Part 1/2)

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Archive-name: birds-faq/wild-birds/part1
Last-modified: August 24, 2001
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
rec.birds Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (Part 1/2)

This is part 1 (of 2) of the Frequently Asked Questions list for the 
newsgroup rec.birds.  The FAQ is posted every five weeks.  Its current 
is Lanny Chambers; send suggestions for new questions and other comments 
to him.
Remember the FAQ is intended as a living document about rec.birds, 
updating is welcome!

This section of the FAQ contains information about rec.birds and about
wild birds.  The other section of the FAQ contains pointers to more
information about wild birds.

Do not send articles to the FAQ editor for posting.  rec.birds is an
unmoderated newsgroup, so you may post articles yourself.  If you are a
newcomer to Usenet, please read the official articles about etiquette
in the newsgroup news.announce.newusers before you post.


1.0.   All-purpose rec.birds etiquette
1.1.   I have a question about pet birds.
1.2.   Are domestic cats Satan?  --A Non-judgmental Attempt at Consensus.
1.3a.  Can I "count" this bird?
1.3b.  What are "listers"?
1.4.   I found an injured bird; what can I do?
1.5.   I found an abandoned nestling; what can I do?
1.6.   A wild bird is annoying me; what can I do?
1.7.   What is the Migratory Bird Treaty?
1.8.   I saw a rare bird!  What do I do?
1.9.   Why does everybody seem to hate Starlings and House Sparrows so 
1.10.  Why does everybody seem to hate Cowbirds so much?
1.11.  I saw a bird which I can't identify.  Can someone help me?
1.12.  How do I keep squirrels out of my feeders?
1.13.  How can I make homemade hummingbird nectar?
1.14a. What kind of binoculars should I buy?
1.14b. What kind of scope should I buy?
1.15a. I found a dead bird with a band.  What do I do?
1.15b. I saw a banded or marked bird.  What do I do?
1.16.  If we throw rice at our wedding, will birds eat it and explode?
1.17.  Does providing food at feeders during summer keep birds from 
1.18.  If I stop feeding birds, will they die?
1.19.  Does anyone archive rec.birds?
1.21.  Acknowledgements


1.0.   All-purpose rec.birds etiquette

This newsgroup is for the discussion of wild birds.  Here is a partial
list of possible topics:

        Identifying birds in the field by appearance, behavior, and song
        Birding trips
        Attracting wild birds to feeders
        Behavior of birds in the wild
        Conservation of wild birds
        Research into bird life
        Bird taxonomy

rec.birds was created by Andy Rubaszek at the University of Toronto.

Discussion of birds as pets is not appropriate in rec.birds.  The Usenet
newsgroup rec.pets.birds is specifically for caged birds.

Discussion of birds as farm animals is also not appropriate on rec.birds.
Posts on the husbandry of ostriches, emus, and peafowl may be appropriate
in misc.rural.

If someone posts an article to this or any newsgroup that is not 
the proper response (if you feel you must respond) is to send that person
e-mail.  Why?  Because Usenet is a device for saying something to lots of
people.  In this instance, you need to say something to only one person,
the offending article's original poster.  That is what e-mail is designed

Please place your name and an indication of your geographical location, as
well as a working e-mail address, at the bottom of your postings as a

rec.birds is read all around the world.  You will generate a great deal
of goodwill if you take a moment to internationalize your postings.  Here
are a few examples of ways to do this:

  + When you write about a bird species, why not find its
    scientific name in your field guide and mention it?  It's
  + When you refer to measurements, include the units.  For
    instance, say "-10 degrees C" or "-10 degrees F" instead
    of just "ten below."
  + When you cite a location, be specific.  Think: "Could someone
    on the other side of the world find this site on a map with
    the information I've given?"
  + Remember that laws vary from place to place.

Please make your postings concise.  When posting followup articles, do
not quote more than is necessary of the originals.

When you feel the urge to reply to a posting, consider whether e-mail to
the poster would serve your purpose, rather than posting your reply to the

If you write an article in anger,  wait 24 hours before posting it.
After that time has passed, it will be easier for you to edit your
post down to what is constructive, or to decide that your post would
be better e-mailed or discarded.

In the past, discussions of falconry in rec.birds have generated
controversy.  Falconry is the keeping of raptors for use in hunting;
birds kept by falconers are in a semi-wild state.  After much debate,
a consensus emerged: if a post focuses mostly on hunting with raptors
or on their captive breeding, it is appropriate for rec.hunting.  If
a post offers information about raptors that is of general interest,
it is welcome in rec.birds.

Continued hostilities among supporters, tolerators, and opponents of
falconry recently resulted in the creation of two new newsgroups:
alt.falconry and  The presence of these newsgroups
does not automatically make mention of falconry in rec.birds forbidden,
but, as a practical matter, posts discussing falconry will probably
receive a warmer reception in the new groups than in rec.birds.  If
your site does not carry alt.falconry or, you may
wish to ask your news administrator to add them.

The more unpleasant moments of the debates over falconry posts happened
for two reasons:

  + Many people disagree over whether hunting for sport is moral.
  + Some birders suspect falconers of taking eggs or birds from
    the wild illegally.

Regardless of your opinions on these subjects, please assume that your
fellow posters' respect for wildlife and the law is equal to your own.
Doing so will help keep rec.birds an enjoyable forum.

Another topic guaranteed to generate ill will on rec.birds is that of
domestic cats.  If you must post on this topic, please read the section
below entitled "Are domestic cats Satan?  --A Non-judgmental Attempt at
Consensus" before you do.  Then make sure that your post is constructive
before you send it.  Avoid making implications about persons who keep 

Finally, be advised that Usenet is not a very good medium for expressing
moral outrage.  If your goal is to get others to "see the error of their
ways," you'll obviously want to choose the strategy that's most likely
to work.  Angry Usenet posts put their targets on the defensive; the
targeted persons, having been publicly criticized, often feel compelled
to reply publicly with their own harsh words.  This phenomenon is what
we call a "flame war," and the demoralizing effect it has on a newsgroup
cannot be overstated.  It also does not lead to many changed minds; in
fact, opinions harden and polarize further.  If you must inform one of
your fellow Usenet readers that you think their behavior is morally
wrong, it's in everyone's interest for you to do so in a carefully and
humbly worded mail message.


1.1.  I have a question about pet birds.

Please post your question to the Usenet newsgroup rec.pets.birds.
Or visit that group's World Wide Web site at: 


1.2.  Are domestic cats Satan?  --A Non-judgmental Attempt at Consensus.

Many human activities lead to environmental damage in one degree or
another.  We clear, farm, flood, drain, divide, and build upon our
surroundings with alacrity.  We have also begun to realize that we
can take steps to minimize the damage we do.

Often, taking steps to preserve the environment is a lot like voting:
it's not clear that any one person's action will have more than a tiny
effect.  Nevertheless, like voting, there are many reasons why one should
go ahead and take those steps anyway:

  + Doing so demonstrates that one is a member of a community and
    shares responsibility.
  + Doing so sets an example and provides education to others.
  + One should always act in a way that, if you lived in a world
    where EVERYONE acted so, would make that world a good place.

One way human beings damage the environment is by breeding animals to
suit their own purposes.  An example of such an "artificial animal" is
the domestic cat, which provides affection and companionship for its
owner and sometimes reduces domestic pests; unfortunately, it also
hunts wild birds with little regard to its own food needs.  Some domestic
cats probably do little damage to wild birds.  Others have single-handedly
sent entire species (such as the St. Stephen's Island Wren) into 
Regardless, if you own a cat, you can take steps to diminish its take.
You can keep it indoors, or you can bell it (though the effectiveness of
belling cats is often questioned).

Perhaps those steps will have little impact; perhaps your cat will only
kill one fewer bird during its lifetime than it would have otherwise.
Remember that there are billions of cats in the world, and, for example,
only a few hundred Kirtland's Warblers (Dendroica kirtlandii).

Invocations of "the survival of the fittest" are not relevant here.
Perhaps many birds are not competent to compete with housecats, or DDT,
or highway construction programs.  Nevertheless, we wish to preserve
those birds because they pre-date their human-assisted competitors,
because they represent irreplaceable parts of our world, and because
they are beautiful.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that indoor cats live longer.


1.3a. Can I "count" this bird?
1.3b. What are "listers"?

Many people who are interested in birds find it useful to keep a
list of the species they have seen: a "life list."  Doing so helps
them to remember their encounters with birds, and thus makes them
better prepared to identify those birds in the future.  Consider
creating one of your own; if you do, you'll enhance its usefulness
if you include the dates and locations of your sightings.

The term "lister" refers to a person who particularly enjoys the sport
of seeing as many bird species as possible within defined geographic
areas.  So a lister might have a North America list, a backyard list,
a Kentucky list, and a Sweden list.  Sometimes the term is used 
to imply that someone's interest in the natural world is superficial.  Do
not make this implication on rec.birds (see section 1.0 above).

If you are keeping your lists for your own purposes, you are free to
establish your own criteria for when you may include a bird on it.
Should you include birds that you identified solely on the basis
of their songs?  Even if they're nocturnal?  Birds that you saw only
in silhouette?  All such choices are up to you.  Many birders with a
naturalistic bent apply a stringent criterion: birds may be counted
only if you feel that you've "met" them.

On the other hand, if you intend to submit your list to an organization
of competitive birders, you must abide by their rules.  For instance,
the American Birding Association once forbade the inclusion of 
birds on North American lists (this restriction has now been lifted).
Another important criterion for ABA listing is that listed birds must
be of species on the official ABA list.  That means that you can't count
an escaped parrot, for instance.  Most birders don't count escaped
domestic or cage birds even for informal listing.


1.4.  I found an injured bird; what can I do?

Most people's encounters with injured wild birds happen around plate-glass
windows.  Birds strike glass windows and doors frequently, apparently
because of the reflections of sky they create.  In most cases, the bird
is simply stunned.  The best way to save the bird's life is to shoo
potential predators from it until it recovers and flies off.

Some people contend that taping hawk silhouettes to windows makes bird
strikes less frequent.  Others contend that this technique has little
effect, and still others suggest that any window marking works as well.
Putting up hawk silhouettes does have the positive effect of making
passing humans think about birds.

If you find a large bird, such as an owl, a hawk, or a vulture, that
has been wounded, you may wish to contact a rehabilitation center, such
as the Carolina Raptor Center (704-875-6521) or the Vermont Raptor
Center (802-457-2779), for assistance.  Some rehabilitation centers
also accept non-raptor birds or other wildlife, such as WildCare 
(415-456-7283,, or the Ontario 
Veterinary College's Wild Bird Clinic (519-824-4120, ext. 4162).

For more information about rehabilitation, including directories by state,
province, and country, see:

Be aware that touching large wild birds can be dangerous.


1.5.  I found an abandoned nestling; what can I do?

If you come across a nest full of nestlings with no parent in sight, do
not assume that the nest has been abandoned.  In fact, the best way to
ensure that the nest does not become abandoned is to leave the area at
once.  Birds do not like large animals of any kind near their active 
and may cut their losses at any time.

If you find a nestling that has fallen out of the nest, consider placing
it back in the nest only if the task can be done quickly and with a 
of disturbance.  You may also consider placing it in a nest of the same
species.  In either case, make sure that your attempt is unobtrusive and
rapid.  You should not feel guilty if, after examining the situation, you
decide not to replace the nestling; no nestling's survival is guaranteed,
in or out of the nest.

By placing a nestling or egg back into a nest, or even by observing
the nest for the necessary length of time, you may be helping predators
find the nest.

If you find a fallen nestling which you cannot replace in a nest, or if
after several hours of unobtrusive observation you determine that a nest
full of nestlings is abandoned, do not attempt to rescue the birds 
unless you are prepared to commit to dawn-to-dusk feedings, keeping them
close by you at all times.  See _The Bluebird: How You Can Help Its Fight
for Survival_, by Lawrence Zeleny (Indiana, 1976), for an account of
hand-raising Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis).  Contact a wildlife rehab
center for assistance.

If a bird can perch on a branch by itself and is covered with feathers, it
is a fledgling, not a nestling, and should be left alone.

Note that hand-raising birds without authorization may be a violation
of the law.

For more information about rehabilitation, see


1.6.  A wild bird is annoying me; what can I do?

Probably little.  In countries that have signed the Migratory Bird Treaty,
virtually nothing.

People often complain of birds singing loudly throughout the night.  In
North America, the bird in question is often a Northern Mockingbird 
(Mimus polyglottos).  Posters have suggested that mockingbirds that sing
in this way are males that have been unsuccessful in finding a mate 
earlier in
the season.  Regardless, Northern Mockingbirds are protected by law in
the United States and Canada.  Either enjoy the song or use earplugs.

The most frequent reports of bird annoyance on rec.birds are of 
pecking on houses.  Woodpeckers peck on things for four main

  + To find food;
  + To send a loud territorial signal;
  + To construct nest or roost sites; and
  + To store food (some species).

Try to figure out what benefit the bird is deriving from your house,
and remove it.  For example, if a woodpecker is using your wall
as a sounding board, perhaps you can change the surface so that it
resonates less.

In the United States, there are certain commercial products that
purport to discourage woodpeckers by causing unpleasant sensations
on contact.  I have no information on these products.

Chuck Otte suggests thin strips, 3/8 to 3/4 inch (1 to 2 cm) wide, of
mylar ribbon about 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) long tacked in the area
of damage.  Obtain these from balloon shops or florists.  Be sure to 
the strips once they are no longer necessary so as not to create litter.

In any case, any offending bird is not likely to hang around forever.


1.7.  What is the Migratory Bird Treaty?

In the early twentieth century, several governments realized that
the protection of migratory birds was not something one nation could
accomplish alone, because birds do not respect national boundaries.
The treaty was signed by the United States and Great Britain (on
behalf of Canada) in 1916 and was implemented in the United States
by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  The United States has similar
treaties with Mexico and Japan, and it also signed one with the
Soviet Union.

The Act makes it illegal to "pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill,
attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell,
offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for
shipment, ship, export, import," etc., migratory birds, parts of
their bodies, or their eggs or nests.  Governmental authorities
may make exceptions to allow, for example, hunting seasons or
research work; in these cases, licenses or permits are involved.

The "take" provision above makes it imperative that birders
refrain from harassing birds that are attempting to nest.  See
"Birders and the U.S. Federal Laws" in the October 1992 _Birding_
for more information.  Note also the "possess" provision above;
it explains why wildlife rehab centers do not give molted feathers
to persons who request them.

In the United States, the Act appears in law at 16 USC 703-711 and
is implemented by regulation at 50 CFR 21.11, 10.12, 10.13.
Web servers where you can find the text of those laws, species list, etc:

Click the line "Code of Federal Regulations" and then find the above
regulations (eg 50CFR10, ETC).


1.8.  I saw a rare bird!  What do I do?

If you saw it on private property, seek the property owner's permission
before publicizing it.  See "ETHICS FOR BIRDERS," below.

Assuming that you've received permission, or if the bird was seen on
public lands, post a report to rec.birds, of course.  Include a complete
description of the bird; the date, time, and location of the sighting; the
names of those who saw it; and whether photos were obtained.

In North America, you can also call the North American Rare Bird Alert
(U.S. and Canada: 800-458-BIRD).  You can also call the regional
rare-bird hotline; North American numbers are published regularly
in _Winging It_ (see the bird magazine list in the other part of the FAQ).


1.9.  Why does everybody seem to hate Starlings and House Sparrows so 

European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and House Sparrows (Passer
domesticus) are European species that have been introduced in several
parts of the globe.  In particular, Starlings were introduced to North
America by one man, Eugene Schieffelin, who wished to increase the
popularity there of William Shakespeare; he set out to introduce all
the birds mentioned in the Bard's writings.  Starlings were his greatest

In areas where they are native, these species receive both affection
and scorn, as does any aggressive or conspicuous species in its home
range.  In areas where Starlings and House Sparrows have been introduced,
however, they compete for food and nesting sites with native species;
thus they have a detrimental effect on biological diversity.  The decline
of cavity-nesting birds (such as bluebirds, Sialia spp.) in North America
has been attributed in part to them.

Because they are not native species, these two, along with city
pigeons ("Rock Pigeons," Columba livia) and Muscovy "ducks" (Cairina 
moschata), are not protected in North America.


1.10. Why does everybody seem to hate Cowbirds so much?

Many cowbird species, such as Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
and Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus), are brood parasites.  That is,
female birds lay their eggs in nests of birds of other species; the
cowbird chicks hatch first and outcompete the other chicks for food
and parental attention.

This behavior is an evolutionary adaptation.  Birds are not moral
agents, so we cannot describe brood parasitism as immoral.  Nevertheless,
many birders cannot help but find it repugnant, particularly when treated
to the spectacle of a cowbird chick being frantically fed by parents
smaller than the chick itself.  This revulsion no doubt contributes
to cowbirds' bad press.

However, cowbirds have been helped along by human activities.  They
prefer as a habitat open lands, such as prairies, and the edges of
woodlands, and humans have created limitless areas of cleared space
and limitless lines of edges over the past century through development
and roadbuilding.  Cowbirds have thus spread widely, and they are now
too successful for the survival of many other bird species.  Thus they
are trapped systematically by authorized persons in areas where they
threaten endangered species, and some prominent ornithologists are
calling for mass harvests of cowbirds on their winter roosts.

Because they are native species, cowbirds in North America ARE protected
under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


1.11. I saw a bird which I can't identify.  Can someone help me?

Quite likely.  Post as complete a description of the bird as you can.
Give the location in which you found the bird, and describe the habitat.
Also describe its behavior and any vocalizations you heard.

Obviously, describing the bird will be easier if you took notes while
observing it, an excellent habit to be in.  Most field guides include
a "map of a bird": a schematic drawing of a bird with all the parts of
its anatomy labeled.  This picture will help you note the details of an
unknown bird systematically.

Here's a short list of questions which might help you get started on
a "What is this bird" post.

  + Was it the size of a sparrow? Or a robin? Or a crow? Or a hawk?
  + Did it have a long or a short beak?  What shape and color was it?
  + What color was its head?  Did it have an eyebrow or a ring around its
  + What color was its back?
  + What color were its wings?  Did you notice any horizontal stripes on
  + Did it have long or short legs?  What color?
  + Was its tail long, like a mockingbird's?  What color?
  + Where did you see the bird--not just where geographically, but what
    kind of setting: forest, beach, field, parking lot...?  What time of
    day was it?
  + What was the bird doing?  Did it make any sounds?


1.12. How do I keep squirrels out of my feeders?

You will not be able to exclude squirrels entirely, as they are wily
creatures.  If you view your interaction with squirrels as a war,
you will lose, and most people find it very demoralizing to be defeated
by an opponent with a brain the size of a ball bearing.

In most cases, you can diminish squirrels' consumption of your bird feed
through three simple tactics:

  + Place your bird feeder on a post at least 10 ft (3 m) away
    from any potential jumping-off point.
  + Mount a baffle on the post. A length of stovepipe, closed at the top, 
    works very well.
  + Ensure that there is some food for squirrels, such as
    by tolerating spillage of bird feed.


1.13. How can I make homemade hummingbird syrup ("nectar")?

Mix four measures of water and one measure of white table sugar;
stir until the sugar dissolves.  Boiling the water before measuring may 
delay spoilage in the feeder by a day or so; if you do boil, allow the
mixture to cool before filling your feeder. There have been reports
that cane sugar is much preferred over beet sugar. Under no 
circumstances use honey, brown sugar, or artificial sweeteners.

There is no need to color the syrup.  Hummingbirds will take syrup
from any suitable dispenser regardless of the syrup's color, although in 
many tests they preferred clear syrup over colored. It does help, 
however, if the dispenser itself is at least partly red. You can advertise
more blatantly by adding some fluorescent red or orange surveyor's 
tape, which emits ultraviolet light, to which hummingbirds are 
especially sensitive.

Change the syrup and meticulously clean the feeder at the first sign of 
cloudiness, which is caused by bacterial growth.  In hot weather, that
might be every day or two. Black mold is best removed by soaking the
feeder in a 10% bleach solution, or by soaking in vinegar.

Providing only sugar-water syrup to hummingbirds does not endanger 
their diet. They do need protein, but they eat insects and spiders to 
obtain it.

For more information on hummingbirds, see:


1.14a.What kind of binoculars should I buy?
1.14b.What kind of scope should I buy?

For both these questions, see the Optics FAQ, posted regularly in
rec.birds by Ed Matthews <>.

The Optics FAQ is archived together with this and many other FAQs.
See the question "How can I get this and other FAQs by anonymous FTP?
On the Web?" in the other part of the FAQ.


1.15a. I found a dead bird with a band/ring.  What do I do?
1.15b. I saw a banded/ringed or marked bird.  What do I do?

Prepare the following information (indicate any unknown items with a "?"):

  +  Species of bird
  +  Color of band
  +  Code on band (exactly as it appears on the band)
  +  Location (direction and distance to the nearest town, or latitude and
     longitude to the nearest minute if possible)
  +  Date of sighting
  +  Name and address of observer; include other contact information if

More suggestions appear below.

Report sightings of small Canada Geese with 3-character orange or red
collars, as well as White-fronted Geese,  Ross' Geese, or Lesser Snow
Geese with collars of any color to:

         Dick Kerbes
         Canadian Wildlife Service
         115 Perimeter Road
         Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0X4

         Phone:  +1 306 975 4111
         Fax:    +1 306 975 4089

Dick writes: "We handle re-sightings of neckbanded geese related to the
international project within the Arctic Goose Joint Venture.   This covers
geese which were neckbanded, 1987 to 1995, in Arctic Canada, Alaska, and
Siberia," as described above.  He also notes that in 3-character collars,
"The 3-character code has the first character upright, the second
two horizontal, when viewed with the goose's head up."

Report sightings of geese with blue collars to

         Margie Mitchell
         Migratory Bird Management Office USFWS
         608 Cherry Street Rm. 119
         Columbia, Missouri

You may also send her reports of orange collars.

Do not report sightings of geese with 4-character neck collars to Donald
Rusch.  He is no longer handling them.  Send them to the Canadian Wildlife
Service (above) or the Bird Banding Lab (below).

Report sightings of color-banded shorebirds to:

         Dr. Cheri Gratto-Trevor
         Pan American Shorebird Program
         Canadian Wildlife Service
         115 Perimeter Road
         Saskatoon, Sask.  S7N 0X4
         Fax:    +1 306 975 4089

Otherwise, for birds found in the U.S., send the band or a description of
it, along with a description of the bird and the date and location of the
encounter, to:

         Bird Banding Lab
         Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
         12100 Beach Forest Rd
         Laurel, Maryland 20708-4037
         In the U.S., call toll-free 1-800-327-BAND

They may be able to help with banded birds found in Canada.

Troy Gordon provides this advice:

"Information to include in the report if available:

  + Colors of the collar and the symbols on it
  + Symbols on collar
  + Date, time and location (direction to nearest town, county, state)
  + Number of geese in flock
  + Other collars seen in flock
  + Activity of flock (grazing, swimming, loafing, etc)

"If observations are over several days, weeks or months, give the total
length of time the goose was seen at that location.

"Please send a written report, rather than calling!  The Bird Banding Lab
is not staffed to deal with calls, and a written report can be forwarded
to the correct researcher."


1.16. If we throw rice at our wedding, will birds eat it and explode?

We are aware of no documented cases of birds suffering from eating rice.
Joe Morlan writes, "Bobolinks are reported to cause considerable
damage to rice fields in parts of the southeast during fall migration.
The alternate name for the Java Sparrow is 'Ricebird' because of its
food preferences."

See the June 1993 issue of _Bird Watcher's Digest_ for more information.


1.17. Does providing food at feeders during summer keep birds from 

No.  If you have a bird at your feeder during winter that "should have
migrated," it may have been injured or too ill to migrate.  A few in-
dividuals, for reasons unknown (but not thought to be related to bird
feeders) also choose not to migrate during any given winter.


1.18. If I stop feeding birds, will they die?

Christopher Leahy, in _The Birdwatcher's Companion_ (New York: Hill &
Wang, 1982), writes: "If you stop feeding, the healthy members of your
clientele will resort to wild food sources (or your neighbor's feeder)
without hesitation.  Only those which need a 'crutch' to survive are
likely to fall prey to real life."


1.19  Does anyone archive rec.birds postings?

Apparently, no one does so on a systematic basis.  However, as of this 
(early 2002), around 90,000 threads are available at



This section is excerpted from Claudia Wilds's outstanding book _Finding
Birds in the National Capital Area_ (Smithsonian, 1992; available from
the ABA).

 1.  Put the welfare of the bird first.
     a.  Do nothing that would flush a bird from its nest or keep it
         from its eggs or young.
     b.  Avoid chasing or repeatedly flushing any bird; in particular,
         do not force a tired migrant or a bird in cold weather to use
         up energy in flight.
     c.  Do not handle birds or their eggs unless you have a permit
         to do so.
     d.  Make a special effort to avoid or stop the harassment of any
         bird whose presence in the area has been publicized among
         birders.  This stricture especially applies to the use of
         tapes and to the disturbance of nesting birds, and of vagrants
         and rare, threatened, and endangered species.
     e.  If you think a bird's welfare will be threatened if its presence
         is publicized, document it carefully and report its presence only
         to someone who needs to have the information (e.g., a refuge
         manager, an officer of the appropriate records committee, the
         editor of the appropriate journal).  If you are not sure,
         discuss it with the manager of a rare bird alert or another
         experienced and responsible birder.
 2.  Protect habitat.
     a.  Stay on existing roads and trails whenever possible.
     b.  Leave vegetation as you find it; do not break it or remove it
         to get a better view, or trample marshland into mud.
 3.  Respect the rights of others.
     a.  Do not trespass on property that may be private, whether or not
         "No Trespassing" signs have been posted.  Ask the landowner
         directly for access unless specific permission for birders to
         enter the area has been announced or published.
     b.  Do not enter closed areas of public lands without permission.
     c.  If you find a rare bird on land that is closed to the public,
         do not publicize it without describing the possible consequences
         of doing so to the owner and obtaining appropriate permission.
     d.  Stay out of plowed or planted fields and managed turf or sod.
     e.  By behaving responsibly and courteously to nonbirders at all
         times, help to ensure that birders will be welcome everywhere.
         Do nothing that may have the consequence of excluding future
         birders from an area.
     f.  When seeking birding information from others call only between
         9 a.m and 9 p.m. (their time!) unless you know that your call 
will be welcome
         at that number at other hours.


1.21. Acknowledgements

Thanks to the many persons who reviewed this document, especially the
following, who provided additional information or text: Tom Lathrop,
Christine Barker, Ignaz Wanders, Annika Forsten, Samuel Conway, Tony
Lang, Sterling Southern, Byron K. Butler, Al Jaramillo, Ed Matthews,
Celia E. Humphreys, Fred G. Thurber, Paula Ford, Malcolm Ogilvie, Daan
Sandee, Carena Pooth, Nina Mollett, Mike McLeish, Janet Swift, Christian
Steel, David Allen, James Dean, Joe Morlan, Mark Huff, Kevin McGowan,
Chuck Otte, Bernard Volet, Paul Burnett, Jennifer Norman, Mark Hammond,
Derk Drukker, Jorgen Grahn, Alan Middleton, Steve Buettner, Todd
Anderson, Vic Fazio, Troy Gordon, Steve Wendt, Derek Kirkland, Greg
Tillman, Rene Morin, Al Eisner, Diane Porter, Doug A. Grier, Allan Donsig,
Jean Dunlavy, Ken Patrick, Derek Turner, Joan Thompson, Dan Kozlovic,
Robert Eisberg, Gjon Hazard, Adrian Mariano, Richard Ranft, Bill Oldroyd,
Gail Spitler, John J. Collins, Urs Geiser.

Thanks to Laura Keohane of the law firm Dorsey and Whitney, of
Minneapolis, for providing the text of the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act.  (Neither Dorsey and Whitney nor any of its members has read
this document, nor have they any responsibility for this document's

The rec.birds FAQ was originally prepared by Brian Rice.

_The Birder's Handbook_, by Paul Ehrlich et al. (Simon and Schuster,
1988) provided valuable information and is highly recommended.

Please notify the FAQ editor of any errors.  If I have failed to
acknowledge your contribution, please do not hesitate to let me
know.  Further information on any subject is always welcome.

*********end of part 1 (of 2) of the rec.birds FAQ*********

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM