Here in southern Cali4nia most of the wild we see is in the bars, yet, if you spend some time and really look, there are non-human animals everywhere. Over the coarse of the week past I've seen rats, mice, raccoons, possums, coyotes, ducks, least Terns, northern mockingbirds, anna's humming birds and scores of song birds.
A couple of months back I got on a photographing the humming birds that nest close to my home. Since then I've noticed there is a distinct change in behavior in the birds I was focused on that frequented specific feeding areas, I can't help but think they are acting differently because of my spending allot of time around them.
Is it only me, or does the question of ethics extend to how we effect the world around us?
I have discovered photography. Now I can kill myself. I have nothing else to learn. ~ Pablo Picasso
Hummingbirds "know" they are among the fastest things in the air. They can be very bold once they get acclimated to the presence of a human, especially one who moves slowly and stays in one spot.
Maybe isn't not you training them but they are training you!
I have a bunch of hummingbird shots that I took way back in the 80's. I should probably dig them out and see if they are worth scanning and posting.
Even though I live in a populated suburban area, right next to an airport, there is still a lot of wildlife around. There are squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossum and all the usual stuff but there are also deer, turkey and even coyote. You can hear them yapping and howling late at night. A few cats that get left out at night end up disappearing.
Several people I know refused to believe that there are coyote in the area until there was a news story saying that a few had been spotted roaming the streets downtown. Even then, people still denied it. "Yeah, that might be downtown but there aren't any living around here." I always call bull$#it on them. I tell them that I have seen them, I hear them at night and, if they still don't believe me, I show them the picture of the dead coyote I took just a half mile from here:
Anyhow, when you're photographing wildlife, whether it be in urban settings or in the forest, you should do your best to follow the old rule:
"Take only photographs, leave only footprints."
I live in the suburbs of Richmond, Va and I have seen some deer and a fox recently.
The wildlife I see in the lake where I jog are quails, some birds that I don't know and a few rattlers that I always seem to narrowly miss stepping on. In front of our house and in the park near here are quite a lot of rabbits and crows.
I live in a semi-rural area tucked into a back corner of the San Diego area, and we see a *lot* of random critters, some of which I've come to know pretty well. Certainly I think it's important to *consider* our impact on the urban and fringe-urban wildlife we hang around with, but in most cases, the animals we see are the ones that adapt well to living around humans, and an extra human taking pictures of them isn't going to have much impact on their world one way or another. (Flash is something to consider, though, especially if you're using it because your subject likes the dark---try not to blind your owls!)
Hummingbirds, of all things, I really wouldn't worry about for a second. The species we see with any frequency are tough little weedy critters, and they learn very quickly not to worry about the big clumsy bipeds, hence the changes in behavior you're seeing. I don't think it has any greater ecological significance.
Of the common stuff locally, in my opinion the best photographic subjects are the little lizards. They're willing to let you get close, and they reveal a lot of personality under a good macro lens.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
One thing to be aware of is that as you watch certain birds and other animals, there are predators that are smart enough to be watching you. I was told about a study of Song Sparrow nests where the researcher learned that his going to nest locations was being used by Scrub Jays to know where to go for fresh eggs. He had to change his protocol and do the exact same set of motions in *every* potential nesting site to avoid cuing the Jays to the active nests. So just be circumspect standing and staring at nests.
I was once trying to pish up a warbler in some reeds. This attracted a flock of Bushtits which flew into the tree over my head. Quite a nice treat as they flew in within feet of me... and then a fast blur and a Sharp-Shinned landed on a branch fifteen feet away, Bushtit in one claw. Not sure if the hawk was actually saying thank you, but it did give me a pretty direct look for a second before flying off to have dinner...