Seasoned birdwatchers will have heard of the Birdwatchers' Code: a set of guidelines established to protect the interests of avian wildlife throughout the UK and abroad. However,Guest Posting new birders, or those heading off on organised bird holidays for the first time may not have. Following the etiquette of the code is not just good manners, sensitive to wildlife (and to other people) and ethical - it's common sense.

An Overview of the Code

  1. Do not disturb the birds or their habitat in any way. Wildlife comes first, always. Depending on the species, location of habitat and season, birds can respond to the presence of humans in a variety of ways if they’re disturbed. In some cases they may abandon nests or chicks. Being on high alert due to human presence can deplete the energy levels of the migratory species, leaving them unable to feed properly. You should recognise the signs that you're too close – for example, if a bird flies away or begins sounding alarm calls. This means staying on paths and roads rather than entering deep into habitat, and being aware that your presence may be detected even from a distance. Never use repeated recordings of calls to attract birds during breeding season as it can deflect their attention from genuine mates or feeding chicks.
  2. Be an ambassador. Lead by example. When you're out birdwatching, be constantly aware of your own behaviour and practices – what you do can have an affect on the behaviour of others. This includes answering questions from interested passersby, because how you respond could create a passion for wildlife in someone else, or at least leave them with a greater understanding.
  3. Understand and adhere to the law and know how to behave in the countryside. As well as legislation set in place, respect is key in a rural setting. Be mindful of local landowners by not entering private property without permission, and ensure you behave appropriately. It's also important to use local services like transport, pubs, cafes etc., in order to foster a positive relationship between birders and the local community.
  4. Share your sightings. With today's technology, sharing sightings and adding to the bank of knowledge is easy. The Birdtrack scheme ( allows users to input and store records as well as forwarding them directly to the particular country recorder.
  5. Consider the interests of wildlife and local residents with regards to sharing information about rare bird sightings. Before you share information ensure you contact the landowner and consider the impact large numbers of visitors could potentially have on the remote do not disturb light and habitat. If in doubt, contact a local wildlife association for advice. This is particularly important during the breeding season.