Outdoors

Apps making birdwatchers foes of their feathered friends

Undated photo of a Swainson's thrush. Like disoriented hikers, migrating songbirds went the wrong way when their inner compasses were disrupted. But the birds recovered, apparently using sunset clues to reorient themselves. How migrating birds find their way over great distances has long intrigued people. Some birds can orient themselves with an internal compass using the earth's magnetic field. Others seem to follow the sun, the stars, polarized light or different clues. (AP Photo/Laura H. Spinney, Science Magazine) ORG XMIT: WX110 (Laura Spinney / The Spokesman-Review)
Undated photo of a Swainson's thrush. Like disoriented hikers, migrating songbirds went the wrong way when their inner compasses were disrupted. But the birds recovered, apparently using sunset clues to reorient themselves. How migrating birds find their way over great distances has long intrigued people. Some birds can orient themselves with an internal compass using the earth's magnetic field. Others seem to follow the sun, the stars, polarized light or different clues. (AP Photo/Laura H. Spinney, Science Magazine) ORG XMIT: WX110 (Laura Spinney / The Spokesman-Review)

WILDLIFE WATCHING — As a hunter and conservationist, I could see this coming. 

I've written stories about the impact of elk bugle calls on bull elk behavior and stories about the regulation of electronic devices and calls for hunting in Washington. There's reason for concern.

When I starting seeing wildlife photographers and birdwatchers giddy with the proliferation of recorded bird songs and electronic devices and then the advanced technology of smartphone apps — an eventual train wreck seemed like an obvious possibility.

The Seattle Times has published a good report on the growing use of the smartphone's field access to the internet  and recordings to flush out species for better viewing and photography.

The technique is controversial among some experts who say it can stress male birds that believe a recorded song signals a rival invading their territory.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

By Rich Landers richl@spokesman.com (509) 459-5508


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