Consciousness Raising: Not just a buzzword from the 60’s – Daily Prompt: Morality Play

Migratory bird protection statutes are very fresh in mind this morning, as I stumbled across instructions for cooking a heron online today. I was gobsmacked.

People who have visited my blog may have noticed a sidebar module titled “Protecting Birds.” Among the listings are a few that speak to the “ethics” of bird photography and that pertain to the US Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This ethos around birding started in my childhood – where my mother had inexpensive Audubon prints in our dining room and red cardinal ornaments on the Christmas tree – and has evolved in adulthood, as I sought out resources for birders and nature photographers. It is a work in progress.

Great Blue Heron by Babsje

Adult great blue heron taking flight from pickerel weed.

The MBTA heron protections are very fresh in mind this morning, as I stumbled across instructions for cooking a heron online today. To say the least, I was gobsmacked. 

The MBTA protects many herons, including these and more:
HERON, Gray, Ardea cinerea 
Great Blue, Ardea herodias
Green, Butorides virescens
[Green-backed (see Green)]
Little Blue, Egretta caerulea
[Pacific Reef (see REEF-EGRET, Pacific)]
Tricolored, Egretta tricolor

For the full list, click here.

It occurred to me that the author was simply unaware, but how does that old maxim go, ignorance of the law is no excuse? So, I sent along some pertinent links to try to raise the author’s consciousness around protected birds, and my hope is that nobody cooks or eats a heron. Fingers crossed.

There are ways we can raise consciousness that are graceful, or that are strident. Unfortunately, I can sometimes tend towards the latter, but here is a very gracefully done post about posessing feathers in The View From Kestrel Hill. Check it out.

There are photographers who place food bait or play birdcalls to lure birds into specific settings in order to photograph them. I am not one of them. If you’re a bird photographer, please take a moment and visit the links in my Protecting Birds widget. 

The birds will thank you.


Thanks for the Daily Prompt nudge, Michelle W and WordPress.  

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on June 24, 2013, in ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, daily prompt, Great Blue Heron, Inspiration, Nature, Photography, postaday, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thanks so much for following my blog. Yours looks a wonderful resource. Am especially fond of herons too. The place where we lived a lot in Africa in 1992 had heronry in the fever trees, and night herons creeping about in the reeds.

  2. Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

    I’m baffled by the idea of eating a heron. Just in practical terms, how much meat can possibly be on such a lanky bird?

    Abuses in photography are a hot topic for me. Obviously, with a point-and-shoot, the only close picture of birds I’ll ever get are of acclimated feeder birds, and I’m all right with that. I will ask people to stop playback when the target bird is obviously distressed, during nesting season, or calling an owl from a roost box in winter (I was disinvited from a small birding group when I demanded one member stop provoking a screech owl in sub-zero cold, just so he could get it on his year list.) That’s just common civility to our fellow-travellers.

    Are you familiar with Ron Dudley/ He’s my idea of a truly ethical wildlife photographer, and somehow he manages to get spectacular images and intimate behavior shots without baiting, calling, or otherwise harassing animals.


    • You’re welcome. Yes, herons average 6-9 lbs, so not much meat there… It sounds as though we are kindred spirits when it comes to ethical birding and photography. I can easily imagine being disinvited to a group, myself, because I also wouldn’t tolerate people behaving that way, but you must have been stunned at the time. My hackles get up when I read photographers describing placing food bait out to ensure bird sightings for the birding tours they conduct. Some fantastic shots of rare raptors on mountain tops that resulted from carrion placed there artificially come to mind. Thanks for the Ron Dudley link, too. Best, Babsje

  3. QUICK UPDATE: I received a kind note from the site that had the cooking instructions for herons posted:

    “Babsje, thank you very much for posting the above information. We very much share your sensitivity towards laws protecting endangered species of any kind.

    We will leave the recipe up, with your good comments highlighted in the post itself. This was part of life in the 19th century, and we’re trying to use that *history* to spark discussion about subsequent events. (We also do not condone the eating of sparrows, even though they’re not federally protected…”

    They also added a note in their heron recipe stating:

    “Ed.Note: Please be sure to read the comment posted by Babsje below. What was legal in the 19th century is not legal in the 21st, so please do NOT try this recipe with heron!”

    All’s well that ends well!

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