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Does ebird Contribute to the Harassment of Wildlife?

Giannine Commodore Photography

Due to recent wildlife harassment I and others have witnessed, I have been in communication with several people who work with wildlife and something that was said by an individual with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has stood out to me, “…ebird contributes to the harassment of wildlife by posting locations of birds…”

In my short time doing wildlife photography, I have seen and heard firsthand accounts of some pretty disturbing behavior by photographers who seem willing to do anything to get a great shot.

Any human behavior that causes a wild animal to change its natural behavior should be avoided. People get too close, chase after birds, engage in behavior to purposely scare them; cut branches around nests to have unobstructed views, and trample into off-limit areas to get close to nests. I have even heard of people taking baby birds out of nests and posing them…

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Ethical Wildlife Photography: What Some Could Learn from Children

Giannine Commodore Photography

The difference between an ethical and unethical wildlife photographer is the desire to respect wildlife.

Since getting into photography last year, I have heard stories from birders and other photographers about bad/unethical behaviors around wildlife, but this weekend, I witnessed it myself.

I have heard about photographers cutting branches to get clearer shots of bird nests; baiting animals (throwing food to them) to get feeding or predator response shots; and purposely flushing (behaving in a way that causes an animal to flee or hide) birds to get flight shots.

Two of my daughters usually accompany me while I am out photographing wildlife and they have received many compliments from birders and photographers on how quiet, patient and well-behaved they are. They have been taught to behave a certain way around wildlife.

As we sat in our vehicle yesterday, moving as little as possible and whispering so as not to disturb…

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When Photography Turns Into Illegal Harassment of Wildlife

Giannine Commodore Photography

Update: The woman shown in the photos has contacted me and apologized.

Since writing about  ethical wildlife photography last week, I have received numerous photos of photographers engaging in illegal, abusive, harassing behaviors of the burrowing owl family I photographed.

I have been in contact with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife but it is rare that they can do much because of the issue of prosecutors dropping cases. Burrowing owls are a protected species — there are federal and state laws protecting these animals, so why won’t law enforcement enforce the laws?

When people put their wants above the well-being of an animal, it can have detrimental effects on the animal, even resulting in death. In this specific case, photographers are driving their vehicles into a privately owned field and right up to the owls’ burrow. Some are walking straight out to the owls within inches of them, purposely…

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The Winter Raptors Are Back!

Giannine Commodore Photography

Most people love summertime but I have always loved the other three seasons most—particularly the colder seasons. Now that I have discovered my passion for wildlife photography, winter has reached a new level of excitement for me. Why? Because winter is when certain raptors come back to Western Washington.

Some, such as the American Kestrel and Northern Harrier are seen year-round but their numbers definitely decrease as the weather warms up. Beginning some time around October, we begin to see greater numbers of American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles; and the Short-Eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawks return!

My favorite area to visit to see these raptors (plus more) is the Skagit Valley. I first stop in Stanwood at a known spot that is great for Short-eared Owls, then continue north to one of my favorite places for birds—Wiley Slough on Fir Island. In addition to the song and water birds…

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How I Got to Photograph Over Half Of Washington’s Owl Species In One Year

Giannine Commodore Photography

January 2019 marks two years since I bought my first camera to delve into photography. About six months in, I became interested in photographing birds but more specifically, owls.

Why owls? I think they are incredibly beautiful, awe-inspiring creatures. They also present more of a challenge than many other bird species because they can be difficult to find.

Within my first year of chasing after birds to photograph, I saw and photographed eight of the 15 Washington State owl species: Snowy Owl, Barred Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Great-horned Owl, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, Burrowing Owl, Great Gray Owl. Six months later I saw my ninth owl species—a Long-eared Owl. I have actually seen a Western Screech Owl, technically making my count 10, but I don’t count it because it was dark and I only saw its silhouette.

How? Through building trust and relationships with others who are passionate about the

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How Networking and Building Relationships Can Create Wildlife Photography Opportunities

Giannine Commodore Photography

There is a beginning for everyone and in the beginning, you probably didn’t know many people who shared your wildlife photography passion (or maybe you were blessed to!). When I delved into this obsession hobby, I didn’t know one person who shared my passion.

I can say that joining a local Facebook bird photography group has played a very integral role in connecting me to others and even providing me with valuable intel. After joining, I began running into people I recognized from the group and people began recognizing me when I was out in local parks and wildlife locations. From there, I have been able to build relationships with several people, and in turn, been given valuable information about the locations of bird species I want to see.

Building trust is an important foundation of any relationship and that is no different in wildlife photography. How do you earn…

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