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Sensitive Species
Sensitive Sightings on Birda
Sensitive Sightings on Birda

Certain bird species are exposed to risks such as being captured, killed intentionally, or subjected to significant disturbance.

John White avatar
Written by John White
Updated over a week ago

Certain bird species are exposed to risks from human activities, such as being captured, killed intentionally, or subjected to significant disturbance. These vulnerable birds can be further endangered by the availability of open-access data that can be used to exploit them.

To address this issue, Birda has implemented a system to hide "Sensitive Sightings" based on the species, location, and date of a sighting. This allows important information about these birds to be collected while ensuring that their safety is not compromised.

One of the most significant risks to wild birds is the trade in captive birds. Despite laws and regulations designed to protect these birds and regulate the international trade in threatened animals (see Birdlife International summary of bird trade and CITES), illegal trade remains a serious threat to many species.

Given these threats to wild birds, Birda has established a system for identifying and safeguarding sensitive species. This system enables Birda users to submit sightings data for these at-risk species in a way that supports scientific research and conservation efforts, without endangering the birds.

How are sensitive sightings flagged on Birda

Sightings are automatically flagged in Birda based on the criteria of what species, where it was seen and when it was seen. For example, the Peregrine Falcon has a wide distribution around the globe however, it is only considered sensitive in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Japan. In the United Kingdom Peregrine Falcon is only considered sensitive over it's breeding season from March to July. So a sighting of a Peregrine Falcon in the UK in December would not be considered sensitive, however, a sighting of a Peregrine Falcon in the UK in May would be flagged as sensitive.

What species is in the sighting:

Birda users a list of species that are widely considered sensitive by global conservation authorities such as Birdlife International and CITES.

When was the species seen:

Some sensitive species are considered sensitive throughout the year however other species are only considered sensitive over specific periods of the year. For example, when they are breeding.

Where was the species seen:

Some species are considered sensitive globally, whereas other species are only considered sensitive in specific areas. For example, the areas where they breed.

How are Sensitive Species handled on Birda?

  • Posts & Feeds:

    • Sightings of sensitive species will be hidden from public view so nobody apart from the posting user will be able to see the posts. So if you post a sighting of a species that is flagged as sensitive, nobody but yourself will be able to see this post.

  • Locations Feature:

    • Sensitive species are excluded from species lists in the locations feature for all users.

  • Species Guide:

    • Sensitive species are clearly labelled in the species guide.

    • Users' images of sensitive species are shown in the species guide however, their links to corresponding sightings are disabled.

    • Sightings within the species guide are hidden from public view.

  • User Profile - Life Lists:

    • Sensitive species are shown publically in users' life lists however the underlying sightings of the sensitive species are hidden from public view. Therefore, only the owner of a life list would be able to see the sightings corresponding to sensitive species.

  • User Profile - Sighting Lists:

    • Sightings of sensitive species are hidden from public view but are visible to the sighting list user who posted the sighting.

  • Sharing Sightings:

    • Sightings flagged as sensitive are not visible to the public so they are unable to be shared by the public.

    • Sightings flagged as sensitive are visible to the user that posted the sighting however the sharing functionality of these sightings is disabled to prevent the public from viewing the sighting.

  • GBIF:

    • The location of sensitive species sightings are obscured before they are submitted to the GBIF.

Why are sensitive sighting posts completely hidden?

People often ask why posts of sensitive species are completely hidden and why we don't just hide the location of sensitive species. The reason Birda took this approach is that hiding the location is not always effective, especially if a user is posting multiple sightings in conjunction with their post of a sensitive species.

For example, if I were logging a session and recorded three sightings, and the second sighting was that of a sensitive species, then even if the location of that sighting was hidden, the hidden location could be estimated from the first and third sightings' location.

It is for this reason that we have determined that the safest approach is to hide the sighting altogether.

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