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An expert photographer’s advice on bird photography ethics

bird photography ethics
Sit quietly and birds may eventually ignore you and approach closely, as did this American Oystercatcher photographed on a Florida beach. Photo © Marie Read

Many birders now carry cameras on field trips in addition to — or sometimes instead of — binoculars and spotting scopes. As bird photography increases in popularity, it’s more important than ever for photographers to consider our collective impact on the welfare of birds and to minimize disruption while pursuing our craft.

Capturing a close-up view of a wild bird going about its life certainly is a thrill, but achieving that with a wary, skittish subject involves more than using a long telephoto lens. Photographic lenses don’t provide the extreme magnification of spotting scopes, and so photographers need to get physically closer to obtain a satisfactory subject size, either by approaching the bird or waiting for it to approach you. How do you do that safely and ethically?

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Marie Read

Marie Read

Marie Read is an award-winning bird photographer and author. Her photos and articles have appeared in BirdWatching, Living Bird, Nature’s Best, and other magazines. Her latest book, Mastering Bird Photography: The Art, Craft and Technique of Photographing Birds and Their Behavior (Rocky Nook), was released in 2019.

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