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Do birdwatchers care about bird disturbance?

By M. A. Weston, P. J. Guay, E. M. McLeod, K. K. Miller

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Little is known about how non-consumptive recreationists perceive their impacts on animals and how this relates to recreationist behavior. We surveyed attitudes and behaviors relating to bird disturbance of 179 birdwatchers who visited a world-renowned, restricted-access birdwatching destination (the Western Treatment Plant [WTP], Victoria, Australia). We distributed a 10-page, 49-question survey to birdwatchers at the WTP and posted it to a mailing list of those who held birdwatching access permits. The questionnaire explored socio-demographic profiles of respondents, and their birdwatching behaviors and attitudes to bird disturbance. Birdwatchers regarded vehicles as particularly disturbing and some bird groups, and breeding birds, as especially sensitive to disturbance. They generally disagreed with the contention that birdwatchers and plant workers disturb birds. All respondents reported using strategies to mitigate bird disturbance (e.g., keeping quiet and distant). Those who adopted more strategies to mitigate disturbance agreed more with the contention that birdwatchers and workers cause disturbance, and that breeding birds are especially sensitive to disturbance. Our results suggest that birdwatchers who perceive that their activity disturbs birds are more likely to modify their behaviors to minimize the disturbance. As such, wildlife managers and educators must clearly communicate possible impacts of birdwatching to birdwatchers to maximize the uptake of ethical birdwatching practices.

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 28
Issue 2
Pages 305-317
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.2752/089279315x14219211661930
Language English
Author Address Centre for Integrative Ecology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. APEC countries
  4. Attitudes
  5. Australasia
  6. Australia
  7. Biodiversity
  8. Birds
  9. Commonwealth
  10. Conservation
  11. Developed countries
  12. Ethics
  13. Impact
  14. Nations
  15. Oceania
  16. OECD countries
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Questionnaires
  19. Tourism and travel
  20. uptake
  21. vertebrates
  22. Wild animals
  23. wildlife
  1. peer-reviewed