Arguments on both sides of this issue can be made with equally passionate reasoning. It comes down to a simple question: Who “owns”Â the wild creatures which fly, swim, or walk among us?
I only ask this after seeing an interesting article from the UK, via Daily Mail. A certain bird–an Eastern Orientalis (a subspecies of the Oriental Turtle Dove) to be specific–showed upÂ in a fellow’sÂ garden some time in February.Â Making this bird special, of course, is its relativeÂ rarity.Â ItÂ had only been spotted in England twice before. Needless toÂ say the “twitchers” were apoplectic at the news and so descended upon Steve Akers’ place for a glimpse at this rara avis.Â (Click on the link above for aÂ copyrighted photo of this neat bird, along with a shot of a portion of the 500 people lined up to get into this guy’s house)
Here’s where the hand-wringing and second-guessing comes in: Mr. Akers charged Â£5 per head for the opportunity to come into his house and (hopefully) see the bird in his back yard.
Mr. Akers was quoted as saying, “It is brilliant to see this beautiful and very famous bird â€“ especially in my own back garden.”
I’ll bet; especially when you can cash in on it. In all fairness, Mr. Akers said he would donate all the proceeds to bird charities. At least that’s what he said.
I’ve never been involved in one of theseÂ rare-bird stampedes but I’ve heard from those who have. In one instance a certain rare hummingbird showed up in Wisconsin a few years ago. So many people made the trip toÂ the residence, that grass was worn away and (I think) some trees were even trimmed for better views of hummingbird feeders. Not to mention the dirty shoes tracking onto carpets while making dashes to the resident’s bathroom. I’m sure there has also been instances of the “lucky” host having to take vacation days in order to regulate the traffic at his home. This is likely why a lot of rare birds go unannounced even by those who know the importance of the bird at their place.
Personally, I don’t mind someone getting reasonable recompense for the wear-and-tear of a house or yard. I would guess most rarity-chasing birders are more than willing to drop a few bills into a can for this reason. Still, there is a nagging voice in the back of my head which continues to say, ‘these are public animals and belong to all.’ But when one of these critters decides to hang out at a private residence, I guess all bets are off. What say you?
(All comments, photographs, bird stories, etc. are welcome any time: firstname.lastname@example.org)