birds, birders, and secrecy

Hal Opperman hal at
Wed Mar 6 14:28:17 PST 2002

The ongoing debate about private birds and the public sphere has been
enlightening in many ways, even though predictable most of the time.
What has not been discussed sufficiently, I think, is the breach of
trust that was involved.

I find Gene Hunn's "secrecy is not nice" argument somewhat
disingenuous. From his original posting of last Saturday, here is
Gene's account of how he got involved: "I chanced to hear a rumor of
a first state record Painted Bunting (immature male) that has been
seen regularly at a feeder on Capitol Hill in Seattle for over a
week. Those who were told of it chose not to divulge the fact, as the
people living in the house where the feeder is located were concerned
about crowds."

It is clear from this posting that the "rumor" included full details
on how to find the bird, and also that the owners had asked that it
be kept quiet -- no doubt as a condition of their giving out their
address so the sighting could be verified. They are perfectly within
their rights to do that. We should all be blessed with such
considerate neighbors.

Gene thinks we should always operate in full disclosure mode. Having
opened that door Gene, don't you think you should walk all the way
through it? Who told you about this bird?

Hal Opperman
Medina, Washington
hal at

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