An important rule must be put on iNaturalist

The ban on posting photos of the nests.
Birds should not be disturbed during the brooding period.
Without respecting this simple rule, research loses its value.
Thank you very much.

Bisogna mettere un’importante regola su iNaturalist
Il divieto di postare le foto dei nidi.
Non bisogna disturbare gli uccelli nel periodo delle covate.
Senza rispetto di questa semplice regola la ricerca perde il suo valore.
Grazie mille


Research value is not in amount of disturbance. There’re many cases where nests are visited for different purposes than just making photos, plus quick photo especially when adults are absent has almost none effect on the brood. I hope iNat will never ban any kind of nature photographs, it makes no sense, plus posted photos can be from years and decades ago.


I’m guessing that you mean taking photos of nests during the brooding period should be banned, not all photos of nests? I agree that nests should not be disturbed unnecessarily. Still, I’ve certainly posted photos of nests that I’ve found that are unoccupied, or that I stumbled upon while looking for other things. Is your concern that people are intentionally seeking the nests out, and disrupting them for good photographs?

Banning photos is difficult on iNaturalist. I comb through a lot of new user photos daily, and there are numerous spam photos (like, Minecraft screenshots, stock photos, etc.). It’s difficult to police people for “proper” behavior when you have tons of new folks coming in every day who don’t know the etiquette of the platform.

From my perspective, banning isn’t useful. If education and connecting people with nature is primary the goal here, then a comment explaining why their behavior of photographing nests is bad for the birds seems preferable.


Taking photos of nests is not a disturbance in and of itself. There are many ways of taking photos of nests that cause little to no disturbance, indeed there are certain areas where viewing nesting birds is actually part of a combined conservation/education program (see Audubon Canyon Ranch in California for an example).

I have a nest of an Olive-backed Sunbird that I can see from my office window, the little fellow has been busy building it over the last few weeks.

There are certain protocols that need to be followed when taking photos of nests. These have been gone over in quite a bit of detail in a recent post on this specific topic:

Bird nesting and photography

I recommend the mods merge this post with that one in order to avoid repetition and to keep the resource pool and discussion focused.


I don’t know how you could even begin to enforce such a rule. There are so many different variables involved from the behaviour of the observer, to the length of time chicks stay in the nest.

Should this photo be banned, taken from 200 meters away

I can see and photograph the local Bald Eagle nest from almost a kilometer away, that’s a photograph of a nest.

What about if I put up bird boxes and am monitoring them as I have helped with this spring. A photo is no more intrusive than the monitoring itself.

There is no way I see for curators to effectively and equitably enforce such a rule.


Also, if I’m not mistaken (and I know there’s other theories for this), it was all thanks to citizen scientists monitoring bald-eagle nests that we were able to notice the prejudice caused by DDT regarding the hatching of eggs. If it wasn’t for that we might have noticed it too late.

I’m sure that most of the people taking pics of nests or monitoring them are taking all the precautions listed above.

This rule you suggest is for the same reason some biologists don’t like when birdwatchers use playback to lure birds into a better photo position.

It is up to the conscience of each one of us. Creating a Nest Police to bash nest pic posters or go around commenting negative things on people’s observations of nests without knowing their methods is way too much.


Species whose nests are subject to disturbance should have their locations obscured. You can do so manually but many sensitive species are automatically obscured. Otherwise, I agree with the gist of the previous comments.


I understand your concern for the safety of nesting birds, and it is a valid issue. However, in my experience, the vast majority of nest destruction and disturbance I’ve observed has come from people NOT knowing where the nest is, what it looks like, or how to avoid destroying it while doing other activities. People are generally very respectful of them once they’re aware of their presence.

I think banning nest photos would only add to this lack of information, and hinder a lot of well-done responsible documentation in the process.

I have seen the occasional less-than-ideal disturbances of nests by new users on this site, but so far they’ve all been extremely receptive to some gentle education about why the birds might be disturbed by their behavior and how to avoid stressing them out.

Obscuring the location for nests of birds that you feel are in vulnerable areas or might be of interest to poachers is always a good idea though.


Buon giorno Roby,

Non credo che imporre una regola di questo tipo servirebbe a qualcosa. Avere un dialogo costruttivo su questo tema e’ probabilmente piu’ efficace. Pero’ suggerirei di non rendere pubblico i siti dei nidi.

I don’t think that imposing a ban on nest photography will be very helpful. As other members have mentioned earlier, having a balanced dialogue that’s informative and educational about this issue is probably more effective. However, I think it would be a good idea to obscure all the nest locations on iNaturalist.


I honestly do not think your reasoning for this is actually reasonable.

Not to be rude or anything. But if you’re saying iNat should ban all photos of nests, then…that means all the people posting photos of ant colonies will technically not be allowed to do that anymore. And I am bringing this up, because they haven’t even touched the colony. I mean, who in their right mind would do that? The ants would come up and bite your arm off.

I think you’re partially correct, though. If you climb up a tree just to get a picture of a bird nest, I just don’t think I would like that, because that would scare the bird away, which means no picture, and you interfering.

But if you take a photo of the bird from the ground, making sure not to interrupt it (and successfully doing so), how would that be called “disturbing”? Because the bird is not interrupted, it is not disturbed, which means everyone is happy. Science gets a helpful image, the iNaturalist gets a good photo, and the bird doesn’t even care.


Thank you for the helpful cross-reference. It is definitely tempting to merge the two topics. But I hesitate to because that other topic is about general etiquette and methods of photographing nests, while this one focuses specifically on iNaturalist “policy” (or lack thereof) around posting nest observations on iNaturalist.

Personally I agree that


It’s not my intention to offend anyone but you have to have clear rules.
Like is not a criticism but it would be better not to take shots of the nests.
It’s a delicate moment when there are pullets.
For this reason one must stay away from the nests.
It is also impossible to know the species from the photos.
Without forgetting that when you go near the nests the pullets “scream” because they are hungry.
In this way they attract the attention of cats et cetera.

nest photos should be banned, as they do on and so on
Better less identifications but safe and not illegible data or shots that disturb the creatures.

I wish you the best

non é mia intenzione offendere qualcuno ma bisogna avere delle regole chiare.

Non è una critica ma sarebbe meglio non fare scatti ai nidi.

È un momento delicato quando ci sono i pullets.

Per questo motivo bisogna stare lontani dai nidi.

Inoltre è impossibile conoscere la specie dalle foto.

Senza dimenticare che quando si va vicino ai nidi i pullets “ gridano “ perché hanno fame.

In questo modo attirano l’attenzione dei gatti et cetera.

le foto dei nidi dovrebbero essere vietate, come fanno su e così via

Meglio meno identificazioni ma sicure e non dati illeggibili o scatti che disturbano le creature.


*Scusate questo mio inglese


Hi @roby
I moved your new post to this discussion you already made for the topic.

1 Like

I will not offer an opinion on the main topic of the discussion, but I would like to clarify that some species’ nests are quite distinctive, enough to be identified. Bird nest field guides have been published for some areas of the globe.


Likewise it is equally possible to have seen an active nest and then photograph it after it has been vacated.


There is no rule like that, so you shouldn’t just go and comment on nest observations that people must behave like you want them to without even knowing how exactly and with what circumstances these observations were made.


For those interested Salem Electric in Salem OR has setup a live Osprey cam.

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