Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Kid chasing birds~What would you do?

Howdee all,

While out shelling and birding today on Sanibel island..

We saw this ..

A young boy chasing birds.

Sanibel Shell and birds_172How do you feel about this?

Sanibel Shell and birds_173

Do you think that the little boy should be allowed to chase the birds?

Sanibel Shell and birds_174

Would you have spoken to him or his parents or just let him be?

Sanibel Shell and birds_175

The little boy continued to chase the Black Skimmers, Terns and other shorebirds.

Sanibel Shell and birds_176

The birds took flight..

Sanibel Shell and birds_177Settled down..

Sanibel Shell and birds_178He chased them again..

Sanibel Shell and birds_179

Jeff wanted to speak to his parent.

I hate to cause problems..and told Jeff not to say anything.

I felt that most likely the parent wouldn’t care about the birds and would let the child continue to chase the birds.

Jeff decided to speak to the father…He asked the father if he knew why dogs were only allowed leashed on the beach. He told him it was to keep them from disturbing the wildlife.  He explained that the birds were trying to rest and that many of them were on resting up before migrating north.

The father seemed agreeable.

Father and boy continued to walk down the beach..

Little boy continued to chase the birds.

Sanibel Shell and birds_180

What do you think about this situation?

What would you have done?


  1. Awesome photos sickstas! I have no comment on the bird chasing though...ha!

  2. I absolute hate when people let their dogs off leash to chase birds but I've never given much thought to a child doing it, probably because I have never encountered it. I'm sure I would have said something too.

  3. You have nothing better to worry about than a child chasing birds? Get a life.

  4. Beachgrl
    Thanks Sicksta~sure did make for a good photo opt.

    Yeah..I was curious how people felt about this. I certainly have mixed feelings.

    Boy you sure do have a bug up your butt. Ha! A Bit rude with your coffee this morning?

    This is a question posed to readers to see how they feel about the situation. I have mixed feelings myself. I love children and I could see this child was having fun. I also think that respect of nature would be nice to teach children....but at what age.
    Please..if you have a comment make it constructive...not rude and senseless.

  5. You know, I started out doing this same thing when I was young. I was fascinated by how easy they could fly. As I got older, I wanted to learn more about birds. I don't have a problem with kids, it is their natural curiosity. It is our job to nurture that curiosity into a positive.

  6. I used to be that little boy chasing the gulls, not at the beach, but at the park. Those gulls seemed to be able to aim their poo at me while in flight and I soon gave up the sport of gull chasing. I regret tormenting little critters as a boy and I have brought my kids up with more respect for wildlife than I had as a kid. I think most little boys grow out of it. Had it been breeding season and a sensitive area, I would have said something to the parents. Little boys are more like a passing coyote, so I probably would have let him be in this situation...unless there was a rare gull or tern in that mix...then I would have made a real ruckus!

  7. Yep, if you're on the beach (and it's not posted as one of our special nesting areas, etc..), let them chase away. The interaction between the kids and the birds will in the long run have a better effect. The child sees this as the birds playing "with" him. And playing with nature, in safe settings (playing with bears or badgers~~not so safe) is a good thing.

    By the by, we used to put tabasco on chips and feed 'em to the gulls. Now that was fun..... (notice I'm telling this story OUT of uniform.... :) )

  8. I often think about this as well. Especially now that I know that red knots have flown all the way from Chili and are exhausted. I always want to tell the kid "How would you like it if I came to your house when you were trying to sleep and scared you out of bed?" But I know it's a public beach and you can't ban kids from public beaches.

    What bothers me more are the big signs that say "No feeding birds" yet people do it anyway.

  9. Unfortunately, they didn't care about the right reasons. Yet the joy of watching birds fly could make for a future birder. Good going on the educational opportunity. Having said that, sure gave you a magnificent opportunity for these in flight photos.

  10. Let kids be kids, if the birds didn't like it they would have flown out of range of this very young boy. You seem WAY to protective of these birds who are doing just fine. There are way bigger problems to worry about.

  11. Unfortunately, the wildlife will need to increasingly adapt to the presence of mankind, including the obnoxious brats (large and small,) rather than the reverse.

    And, Bill and Anonymous (such a brave name,) if you don't see the significance of the situation, and the fact that it is so apparently common and mundane, then that really is a shame.

  12. Dear Dawn,
    I'd have said something to the parents, too, if it seemed like more than just a one-time fun thing the little boy was doing. I think Jeff did the right thing. Too bad the parent was so passive, but passive parenting is a trend. Sure, there's something sweet and undeniably beautiful about the "interaction" between child and birds, but a responsible person wouldn't let his dog chase terns and skimmers--why let your child do it?

    I find myself repeating the mantra: "Wild creatures aren't toys" pretty often these days (vis a vis Snapperfest, where snapping turtles are abused as such). And yes, there will always be people who scoff, who tell me to get a life, why worry about a stupid turtle, it's just a turtle and you're a bunny hugging idiot...but those of us who worry about the welfare of wild creatures need to lead the way for those to whom it doesn't occur to care.

    I'm amazed at the rudeness of some of your readers. You're posing a question. That's all. And it's a good question, and in my opinion the parent is setting a bad example by letting his child treat terns and skimmers as toys. How much nicer it would have been for them to sit quietly on the beach and watch them preen and doze, then move on without disturbing them. That's a small victory, and far more instructive and challenging than rushing at birds to scare them away.

  13. Don't know whether the link will appear here, but this little guy was chasing a Sandhill Crane in the Nature Center parking lot. I did say "Don't do that," almost reflexively. His father also cooperatively distracted him by showing him something else of interest.

    Kid chasing crane

  14. Jeff did the right thing. Technically it's illegal to harass birds. We deal with this almost every day during the summer at Ft. DeSoto. It's best to try and educate them if possible.

  15. Thanks everyone for your comments..

    It has been interesting to see how people feel about this kind of situation.

    I tend to think it best to teach our children not to behave aggressively to wildlife. Chasing is aggression.

    I can understand a child doing this once..but after that I think its up to the parent to teach the child to respect the birds and leave them alone.

    I am a bit timid and didn't go to the parent to explain why his child shouldn't chase birds...I didn't want Jeff to cause problems and suggested he not do anything.

    I am glad he did.
    I learned something from him.
    I also learned from those here who would say something and have done so in the past.

    I know Julie Zickefoose has worked hard to stop wildlife abuse. One example is her working hard, writing letters to stop Snapperfest..if you dont know what that is google it..It will shock you!

    Hopefully if this happens again Iw ill not be so timid and will approach the parent or child with respect and explain why this should not happen.

    I am just afraid of someone biting my head off...I am not one to be aggressive.

    I too was amazed at the rudeness of those readers....Must be a touchy subject for those two people...very odd indeed.

    Again~Thanks for all of your feedback

  16. Definitely not a good idea for kids to harass the birds...if it continued advising the parents may be the right approach. "May be" because one does not know how people will react. It's a case by case situation.
    I once had a child scare a bird I was photographing and later the parent made the kid apologize to me.
    BTW I really like the second to last photo :)

  17. In the end, repeatedly frightening birds off their resting place is not a justifiable action, no matter who is doing it. It shouldn't make any difference whether it's breeding season or not. If you're clueless enough to let your child chase wintering birds, you probably have no concept that in summer they'll be trying to protect eggs and chicks. Why is it OK to harass wintering birds but not OK to harass breeding birds? These aren't pigeons on a city sidewalk--these are terns and skimmers and gulls that are forced to live cheek by jowl with people. The least we can do to thank them for invading their habitat is walk around them and leave them in peace.
    By way of identification, I should say that I started the Least Tern/Piping Plover Recovery Program in Connecticut in 1986, and when I started the program, there was not a single measure taken in the state to protect nesting colonies of either species. People were driving over nests; they were spreading towels in the midst of tern and plover nesting colonies; they were letting their dogs chase the birds. It was a horrible situation. Three years later, we were fencing piping plover nests individually, and all tern colonies were strung off with educational signs. Populations have since rebounded, from 19 pr. piping plovers when I started the program to almost 100 now!

    Just another bunny hugger, checking in. You go, Dawn, and watch out for those birds.

  18. This is one of my pet peeves Dawn. Harassing birds and other animals. I see this behavior all the time, whether it is kids chasing birds or throwing stones at birds or people letting their off leash dogs chase birds, it is simply wrong.

    I had an experience with the Wildhorse Golf Course Burrowing Owls where a woman was walking her dog off leash and the dog was chasing the nesting owls all over the place. I yelled at the dog and ran at the dog as it almost caught an owl taking off.

    I was so upset, I was shaking. By the time this lady got her dog to respond to her calls and get it on a leash, she was out of my range.

    I waited for her to come back and confronted her with the fact that her dog being off leash harassing the wildlife was inappropriate, especially for a species of special concern.

    She looked at me like I was crazy but she was obviously feeling guilty since this location requires dogs to be leashed, like most public places.

    I think it is more difficult to confront a parent with a child displaying this behavior than a person that is obviously braking the rules with an off leash dog, but I feel that informing people of the reasons why the behavior is inappropriate is important.

    Of course if you are dealing with people like "Anonymous" you are probably dealing with folks that don't give a hoot about wildlife and have low self esteem ;-)

  19. came via 10,000 birds. I sympathise with - don't want to cause a fuss. But, all that is needed for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

    BTW don't feed the trolls - if Anonymous - is just here to pick a fight - delete him. To those who say don't worry about birds, get a life - why on earth are they wasting their life reading your post AND THEN whining?!

  20. If it were a sensitive area, the protect it and keep all disruptions away. Since it is a public beach, that's part of the circle of life. I agree with anonymous, there are SO many efforts you could put your time and attention to that would have a meaningful impact (KONY 2012, Primehook Dredging, whatever). I know many hunters converted to conservationists. Perhaps this two year old is growing a love of birds. I vote with anonymous - worry about something else.

  21. Mind me own bloody business is what I would have done.

  22. I say let him chase them. First, I have two 4 year olds that wouldn't stop even if I told them to. Funny thing about kids, they have a mind of their own.

    Second, if the birds were that disturbed (I mean really super stressed) they might fly away completely.

    Not to mention he's having fun with birds. He's being inquisitive about birds and as birders, I think our first job is to interest youth, no matter how old, in birds. I personally have memories exactly like he will and these days I still chase birds. Only now, I chase them across the country but stay a respectable distance from them when I find them.

    I'm a tad envious that he has a Black Skimmer on his list and I don't.

    Paul Riss

  23. If we as birders are going to act as stewards of the biodiversity and birds that we appreciate and love, I believe it is our duty to make at least some attempt to educate and stop behaviors and actions like this that harass birds. Sure, the child is just being a kid but Julie makes the perfect point in stating that he is inappropriately using the birds as a toy. I think Jeff did the right thing in talking to his father. Hopefully we can confront such behaviors in a diplomatic manner like that. On an interesting side note, in the Tuscarora culture, each person belongs to a specific clan associated with any number of animals. If you are of the Snipe clan, it is your duty to stand up for and make sure that people are not mistreating birds as they are part of your clan (or turtles for that matter- a friend of mine actually belongs to the turtle clan). How I wish that every culture had such a means of identifying with nature! Maybe all birders should be honorary members of a bird clan- although I have to admit that I would prefer belonging to the Falcon clan.

  24. I believe it's always appropriate to turn an interaction with birds into an education opportunity. That being said, one two year old (or even a small army) is likely threatening the survival of the skimmers overmuch. The child is just another feature of their environment that includes cats, plate glass, and Peregrine Falcons. If it is truly the case that a toddler can cause the sort of disruption that warrants lectures on responsibility and sound parenting, maybe we should think twice before pishing or firing up the iPod.

  25. My apologies. The second line should read "not likely".

  26. I've had this discussion many times, and I've actually been physically assaulted by a violent parent for intervening when children were harassing oiled and hypothermic ducks. It was during a bunker fuel spill where I was working with a rescue team.

    I try to pick my battles wisely, but I'm absolutely frustrated by this behavior and will confront it, politely, it if it persists to a degree. I focus on the educational aspect and also point out that these birds are, in fact, federally protected species. I wish parents would encourage respectful, observant interaction with wild animals. I agree with Julie.

    I just don't remember kids doing this so often when I was young, in the 60s. Of course, my parents would have had some stern words for me if I'd harassed wildlife in any form. But, I still maintain that with all of the viable habitat we humans have destroyed, we owe it to wildlife to leave them in peace on the small, human-populated swatches they have left. And I don't mind standing up for them ... even if a parent comes swinging.

  27. Well this sure has been interesting.
    Some very nice thoughtful comments here and just a few rude ones.

    The more I am here on the beach I see what the birds go thru...constant movement because of the beachcombers who are oblivious for the most part to the birds presence.

    I still feel that a child chasing birds constantly like this one did should not be encouraged. Respect for nature is learned from many ways..I cant imagine how chasing birds would be one of them.

    Thank you all for your comments.

  28. chasing birds is nothing but pure bullying behavior. If I chased your dog or cat around and told you it did not matter because it can run away, you would correct me, for sure. Some parents don't get that this is being a bully. Birds are smaller and kids that do this are on their first "power trips."

  29. To try and indicate that "chasing birds as a kid lead to
    becoming a bird enthusiast is absurd! Do I have to chase a puppy or kitten around mercilessly as a kid in order to want to be a vet later in life? Get real. Chasing some bird species violates Wildlife Laws. It is illegal to harass wildlife, and that includes many native bird species. the kid could earn his parents a $5,000.-$10,000. fine. If I was on duty as a Conservation Officer, they would get a warning from me to control their kid.

  30. I have a 2 year old grand-daughter that likes to chase the birds. I really don't see the harm in it. It is a game and no one is getting hurt.
    I'm sure she will get bored of doing it after her interest goes to other things as she gets older. I encourage kids being out in nature and being interested in something other then technology.


ok what do you really think?????