Ethical birding with Vietnam Birding

Vietnam Birding is an ethical birding company and we strictly follow our code of ethics and ask that our clients do so too and do not pressure our guides or drivers to do otherwise.

The most wanted birds for birders visiting Vietnam are often those rare, endemic and globally threatened species that are the most sensitive to disturbance so it especially important that our code of ethics is followed by all.

Our ethical birding code

1. The welfare of the birds must always come first.

2. Never disturb or modify habitat to get a better view.

3. Use playback of calls responsibly and only when necessary, never playing continually or playing at unnaturally high volume.

4. Use torches/flashlights sparingly for spotting nocturnal birds and never use for longer than is necessary to see the bird.

5. Never attempt to flush a bird out of its habitat to get a better view.

6. Keep well back from nesting and roosting sites.

7. Stay on roads, paths and trails wherever possible, and if not possible keep habitat disturbance to an absolute minimum.

8. Never break the law or ask others to do so in order to see a bird.

Bird photography

Bird photography is becoming increasingly popular nowadays and nowhere more so than in Asia where numbers of bird photographers far outstrip the number of birdwatchers.

Everyone loves to see a beautiful bird captured in a photograph and especially when it is a wild bird doing what it does naturally in its natural habitat. However in these social media obsessed times, bird photography has become highly competitive and birding ethics and the welfare of the subject are often forgotten in the race to stay ahead of rivals and post that perfect photo.

We are not against bird photography, and many of our clients do take wonderful photos on our tours, but we do not support the use of unethical practices for the purpose of taking photographs.

The use of photographic hides/blinds and the setting-up of artificial feeding stations are two practices that are now very common among bird photographers. Unfortunately the construction of hides/blinds usually involves habitat modification and disturbance and the artificial feeding of birds increases dependency and can lead to predation at feeding sites. And in Vietnam predation comes not only from natural predators but also from human predators trapping for the lucrative cage bird trade or in the case of some species for the dinner table. Trapping at feeding stations in Vietnam in recent years has already lead to the local extirpation of some endemic bird species at several locations.

While there is no doubt the resulting images of birds taken from hides at feeding stations are often stunning we may question whether taking photographs of habituated birds eating mealworms from a cleared patch of forest can really be called birding.