This article is from the Birds FAQ, by Lanny Chambers with numerous contributions by others.
This section is excerpted from Claudia Wilds's outstanding book _Finding
Birds in the National Capital Area_ (Smithsonian, 1992; available from
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.