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posting & eBirding sensitive locations

posting & eBirding sensitive locations

By – 12:53 pm
Thought it was time to (again) mention concerns about folks sometimes posting exact locations of some rarities that are at potentially “sensitive” sites, access wise (e.g., private property). Such birds should be broadly advertised only after very, very careful consideration. This is particularly true if the person who is posting did not find the bird and does not already see public posts about it and did not check with the finder to see if it was OK to do so or not! Currently there have been two different posts or eBird reports about a rather low-level rarity in town, which I had found, that folks learned about via word of mouth, but then eBirded with exact location (including lat-long down to four or five decimal places). The bird likely won’t generate too many visits given it isn’t a “mega,” but if a steady stream develops, especially with many wielding large cameras, it might be a problem. This current situation involves a private HOA park, and it is clearly signed as such. Now, some “private” HOA parks seem OK with the public visiting, such as La Jolla Colony Park, but other such parks are patrolled regularly and birders have been been tossed out of at least a couple of them in the county over the years.If you are the finder of a bird at such an access-restricted site, then you need to decide what level of public dissemination is possible, if any, without potentially causing serious issues and possible revocation of access permission for yourself in the future. If in doubt, ask a couple trusted friends for their opinions. One option is to say nothing until the bird leaves. Another is to post or eBird the record but only after 8 days so it stays partly “hidden,” or keep the location description VERY general, and possibly invite birders to contact you privately if they would like more information. But if you are not the finder, please do not post such site-specific news if there appears to be some question about access and you did not first clear it with the finder. Far too many such sites have been “lost” to access over the years when too many (even well-meaning) birders arrived on scene.–Paul Lehman, San Diego