Dear Crabby: Advice from the Birds
Advice from the birds
Sharing the beach with others—feathered or footed—is good beachcombing etiquette. Here are some ways to make sure you’re not disturbing others on the beach:
Can I take close-up photos of birds?
Give birds plenty of space to live their best lives. They have limited energy stores they use to get food, meet and mate with other birds, and migrate between their winter and summer homes. If you get too close and flush a bird, they not only waste energy but might end up in the sights of a predator. Stop approaching when the bird looks like it’s getting worried. Better yet, get a camera with zoom capabilities.
Can I feed the birds on the beach?
No matter how great your beachcombing snacks are, nature is better at feeding the birds—and all the other wildlife you meet on the beach. Your snacks are likely low in protein and other essential nutrients and minerals that birds need to grow the strong and colorful feathers they need for flight, insulation, and to attract a mate. Not only will the birds you feed be less hardy, they may end up lonely, too!
Everything looks like food to a bird.
Plastic pieces, bags, and other small pieces of trash can look like food to someone with a bird brain. According to UNESCO, 1 million marine animals—including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds—are killed each year due to plastic debris. Beachcombers should pack their trash and pick up any that they find on the beach. We’re already bending over all day picking up glass, shells, rocks, and fossils and can easily add a little trash to our bags! Consider it the price of admission to the beach.
Watch out for the watchers.
Be aware of people who are at the beach solely for birdwatching. Don’t spook the birds they’re photographing or spying through their binoculars. And stay away from bird nests.
Can I be the bird police?
Most people aren’t purposely annoying the birds (except kids, who love making a flock of seagulls take off together) or feeding them something that makes their lives worse. Be polite and let people know how to better share the beach with birds and other bird lovers.
Thanks for helping take care of our feathered beach friends!
Etiquette, manners, tips, and tricks
More answers to your burning questions about beachcombing manners, tips and tricks, and more.
- Dear Crabby: Advice from the beach
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- Dear Crabby: Even more advice from the beach
- Beachcombing etiquette
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This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2022 issue.