Suffolk: Stop abusing bird-call apps, Minsmere reserve tells visitor

Not appy: Nightingale

Not appy: Nightingale - Credit: Edmund Fellowes/BTO

The use of bird-call phone apps to lure rare species out of hiding at a Suffolk nature reserve could have serious implications on their breeding, experts have claimed.

The RSPB have said they have witnessed a rise in the number of people who repeatedly play bird calls at Minsmere.

They are now urging visitors that although the tools can be useful for learning songs and identification, if abused, they can distort behaviour and distract birds from tending young.

Ian Barthorpe, marketing and publicity officer on the Suffolk Coast, said more elusive birds such as Nightingales and Cetti’s Warbler were being targeted.

He added: “If apps are used properly, they are really useful to learn bird song and we wouldn’t want to discourage people from having apps on their phones. Where they shouldn’t be used is to repeatedly play that app to a bird to encourage that bird in the open. It encourages the bird to sing more frequently, puts it off its natural behaviours – yes it sings but it has to feed and find food for its young.

“It’s often the case that if its used to excess it can distort the behaviour and have serious implications on its breeding.”

Mr Barthorpe said the problem had been increasing with the availability of apps.

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He added: “We don’t want to band people having apps or from using in the field. We want them to use them responsibly and be aware of the implications of their use.”

The plea from Minsmere comes a day after Dorset Wildlife Trust asked bird spotters to use bird-call apps responsibly at Brownsea Island.