We were on the California coast, watching a huge flock of pelicans grow even larger as squadrons flew in for their evening bath and rest. This guy and his friend were shooting video, and naturally, he ran into the big flock, spooking the pelicans into flight for his friend’s photo ops. It’s something most of us have seen dozens if not hundreds of times. But each time I do, I wish we humans could show more respect to the wildlife around us, all of whom are dealing with stresses of their own … mostly because we’re on the planet.
Here are some of the reasons to be bird friendly on the beach:
- Birds waste precious energy having to evade us, and no photo op is worth creating that stress for them
- During migration, birds travel many miles before stopping to feed and rest. Every interruption depletes them of the resources and restthey need to replenish.
- Dogs loose on the beach scare birds and, depending on the area, trample nests and harm birds
- What’s fun for kids is not for the birds. Birds do not enjoy being chased. They view us and our pets as potential dangers.
It’s also against the law in many circumstances.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to deliberately harass birds where a person might significantly disrupt normal behavior patterns (e.g., breeding, feeding or sheltering, etc.)
And in California Code:
“Except as otherwise authorized in these regulations or in the Fish and Wildlife Code, no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or non-game bird or mammal or furbearing mammal. For the purposes of this section, harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering”