Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Of Human Beings and Snowy Owls

453 people viewed this page yesterday, 1,784 this week, 4,614 last month and 169,078 all time.  That's not Amazon or Facetime, but it's enough.

I think the main reason for those numbers is the photography. Following in the tradition of the late, great Mike Moran, people like Mike Boston, Carol Cooper, Charlie DeWitt, Travis Dewys, Don Neumann, Mike VanderStelt and (pardon me for leaving anyone out) others are not only talented at capturing nature with their cameras, but also ethical in their talent.

I think another reason is the timeliness of information.  This page is updated whenever I hear of notable Muskegon area bird sightings, usually within 24 hours of those sightings, and often much sooner than that.  So anybody interested in such stuff can find out immediately with just one click.

Two winters ago, Snowy Owls invaded the upper USA including the Muskegon area in record-breaking numbers.  For the first half of that winter I posted virtually every Snowy Owl sighting and photograph sent me, and our photographers with website privileges posted several more.  But as that winter progressed, we all observed behaviors of a small minority of people at the Wastewater approaching the Snowies way too closely, causing them to fly, some people (usually with cameras) stalking the birds, pursuing the birds to make them fly, then pursuing and making them fly again.  And we stopped posting Snowies.

It's too soon to know, but there are indications this may be another invasion winter for Snowy Owls, most of them less than a year old, most of them never having seen a human being ever! Birders know this.  Our photographers know this.  Most people (hopefully) know this.  But a few people don't, or they just don't care.  And I'm responsible for a website that's been viewed 169,078 times by human beings.

So I'm not going to post or have posted here any information about Snowy Owls at the Wastewater.  Future sightings of Snowies elsewhere in the area will not have their locations posted. Birders will know, and others may find out elsewhere, but I simply do not want to be responsible in any way for incidents similar to those at the Wastewater two years ago.

Thanks, and sorry,



Andy said...

No apologies are necessary, sir.

The people apologizing should be the scum photographers who harass the birds for their own selfish obsession.

They are a plague out here in California as well.

However, there is some good news. I have read reports locally of photographers being cited by the local authorities when their disgusting behavior has been reported and photographically documented by those nearby.

Chace said...

Good decision, Ric.

Ric said...

Andy's idea might be used by good guys with cameras when they observe bad human behavior at the Wastewater. Photos of people, cars or license plates could be sent to me (I'd consider posting on a case-by-case basis) or shown to the Wastewater authorities or the occasional police officer out there if the behavior warranted it.