Birdsong app is disturbing protected species and could have a devastating impact
There is a growing trend with birdwatchers, who are using a birdsong app to lure birds out of their nests in order to snap the best picture, which could be having a negative impact on the animals.
This practice could have a terrible effect on the birds themselves as rare species are interrupting their mating in order to chase off a rival that doesn’t exist. Some birds are even putting off important tasks, such as feeding their young, and others are even relocating their nests as they feel that they are under threat.
An online campaign is being launched by Dorset Wildlife Trust in order to raise awareness after several incidents on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.
Visitors to the nature reserve are using apps, which imitate the unusual “churring” call of the nightjar in order to attract birds.
Chris Thain, the Reserve Manager on Brownsea Island said: “The apps are becoming quite common, and are great, but their use needs some guidance I feel. I’m sure visitors would be devastated if they realised the possible disturbance they were causing to wildlife. We need to spread the word that use of these apps is not suitable for nature reserves and can be potentially harmful to sensitive species.”
Tony Whitehead, Public Affairs Officer for RSPB in the South West said: “Repeatedly playing a recording of birdsong or calls to encourage a bird to respond in order to see it or photograph it can divert a territorial bird from other important duties, such as feeding its young. It is selfish and shows no respect to the bird. People should never use playback to attract a species during its breeding season.”
Dorset Wildlife Trust will be discouraging the use of these widely available mobile phone apps on all of its 42 reserves across Dorset. There is no doubt these apps are educational and a great tool to get people interested in birds, but Dorset Wildlife Trust is encouraging photographers to think about the wellbeing and longevity of birds and in this case, Nightjars, when using such a fragile and reviving species as a subject.
Signs have been put up at Brownsea Island, which is leased from the National Trust, to remind visitors they are advised not to use bird apps on our reserves.