Saturday, 1st July, 2017 -

There were some folks in the Ramble of Central Park (Manhattan, N.Y. City) 
apparently following a grown man around who was blasting amplified recordings 
of various birds at decibel levels which were loud enough to be heard - loudly 
- more than 100 yards away & farther, this being observed as early as are ound 
5:40 a.m. - these were the only other persons, besides myself, who were noted 
anywhere in the Ramble area with binoculars at that early hour.   The amplified 
songs &/or calls were repeated for minutes on end, for various species.  This 
is not a normal thing for someone to do in any situation, but is far beyond the 
pale of any person[s] attempting to have a running business (for-profit) that 
involves bringing people on walks to see birds - when done to such excess as 
was seen and heard this morning - high inappropriate for the location, wholly 
inappropriate for the season, and far too loud & too extended under any 
circumstances - it is an unnecessary & unethical means of attempting to lure 
birds, and in fact often has the effect of chasing birds away. 

Hearing in birds is far more sensitive than in any human, & if a human can hear 
a recorded version of a bird call or song at a volume greater than the actual 
bird is capable of even from point-blank range, yet the person able to hear 
this is standing 100 yards away, it is clear that that amplified sound, or any 
“noises” that cause birds to be upset, is unhealthy to, and for, these birds.  
When this behavior is repeated over & over, and in the midst of breeding & 
nesting season, it may contribute to stress for the birds which might even 
cause a failure of the breeding cycle.  The activities of the person found 
doing this on this early morning have been observed over the past 2 decades, & 
this person is very well aware of the unethical & harassing nature of this sort 
of activity.  Indeed, were this to be found occurring in such a place as 
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, just to give one example, the person doing this 
would be told by the parks police to desist, or expect legal action to be 

There is good reason for rules, laws, which are in effect in many places, on 
public lands & parks & preserves, that no one shall use amplified sound for 
luring birds at any time.  It is unfortunate that there are those who choose to 
offer financial or other support to anyone who has no qualms about harassing 
birds in such a way, on such a continual basis.  Around the country, and around 
the world, those who make a business of showing birds or other wildlife to 
others, have adopted ethical standards for doing so, and most conservation 
organizations have put into effect common-sense standards for the behavior of 
birders & all who wish to observe wildlife. Again, in many locations, these 
standard are also laws and regulatlions - and they are in place to give 
protection to vulnerable wildlife.  It is, above all, incumbent on those who 
take others around, for profit-making business or otherwise,  to observe 
wildlife / birds, that they are doing as absolutely little as possible to 
disturb that which they wish to observe.  In the case of the grown man taking a 
group, at the hour of 5:30 a.m. & afterwards this morning, it appears that 
those following this man may not be aware of the harrassing nature of this 
man’s activities towards breeding & other birds; they may not be fully-aware of 
how wrong that harassment is. It is a complete contradiction to any scientific 
interest of any kind, and is simply harmful to any bird to be finding such 
excessive amplified playing of sounds that upset & disturb the bird[s].

Of bird sightings, some early-birds noted in Central Park for this Saturday 
included 2 male Wood Ducks, an eclipse-plumaged male ongoing at The Pond, & a 
high-breeding-plumaged male at the Conservatory Water (a.k.a. the ‘model boat 
pond);  a Spotted Sandpiper at The Pond, and a bit later, 2 additional Spotted 
Sandpipers at The Pool, & again at The Pond, a Louisiana Waterthrush on the 
southern edge.  

Many of the breeding species of the park have been relatively quiet, and many 
are now feeding young.  More on that at another point. Use of recordings of any 
sort are completely unnecessary for observing which species are present in 
Central Park, and use of any amplified songs, calls, or ‘noises’ to lure birds 
at this time of year is harassment in a place such as Central.  One expects 
better, and it is for those leading bird-walks to set a higher, not low 
standard of behavior.

good -and ethical- birding,

Tom Fiore


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