This is a working draft of the ABA Code of Birding Ethics, v. 2.0. As we go to press, the ABA Recording Standards and Ethics Committee solicits ABA member feedback on the draft as presented here. Please use the form below to comment on the draft. All comments must be received by Sept. 30, 2019. The final version of the revised and amended code will be published in the Dec. 2019 issue of Birding.


American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics, v. 2.0

Practice and promote respectful, enjoyable, and thoughtful birding as defined in this code of ethics.

1. Respect and promote birds and their environment.

1(a) Support the conservation of birds and their habitats. Engage in and promote bird-friendly practices whenever possible, such as keeping cats and other domestic animals indoors or controlled, acting to prevent window strikes, and landscaping with native plants.

1(b) Avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger. Be particularly cautious around active nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display sites, and feeding sites. Limit the use of recordings and other audio methods of attracting birds, particularly in heavily birded areas, for species that are rare in the area, and for species that are threatened or endangered. Always exercise caution and restraint when photographing, recording, or otherwise approaching birds.

1(c) Always minimize habitat disturbance.

2. Respect and promote the birding community and its individual members.

2(a) Be an exemplary ethical role model by following this Code and leading by example. Always bird and report with honesty and integrity.

2(b) Respect the interests, rights, and skill levels of fellow birders, as well as people participating in other outdoor activities. Freely share your knowledge and experience and be especially helpful to beginning birders.

2(c) Share bird observations freely, provided such reporting would not violate other sections of this Code, as birders, ornithologists, and conservationists derive considerable benefit from publicly available bird sightings.

2(d) If a birder witnesses what they believe to be unethical birding behavior, approach the situation with sensitivity and respect and try to resolve it in a positive manner. When possible, use the situation as an opportunity to teach by example and to introduce more birders to this Code.

2(e) Group birding leaders should ensure that everyone in the group knows of and practices this Code and should work to ensure that their group does not unduly interfere with others using the same area.

3. Respect and promote the law and the rights of others.

3(a) Never enter private property without the landowner’s permission.

3(b) Familiarize yourself with and follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing activities at your birding location. In particular, be aware of regulations related to birds, such as disturbance of protected nesting areas or sensitive habitats, and the use of audio or food lures.

Birding should be fun and help build a better future for birds, for birders, and for all people.
Birds and birding opportunities are shared resources that should be open and accessible to all.
Good birders give back more than they take.