Does bird photography affect nest predation and feeding frequency?

Xiaocai Tan, Shilong Liu, Eben Goodale, Aiwu Jiang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Bird photography is a popular and growing form of ecotourism that contributes to the economic growth of local communities, but its disturbance to bird reproduction remains understudied. We worked in a tropical forest of southern China, which has experienced a sharp increase in the number of photographers in recent years. We compared nests that were photographed and those that were not, in their nest predation and parental feeding rates. Including nests of 42 species, the results demonstrate that the predation rate of nests that were not photographed (incubation stage: 43.3% of 194 nests; nestling stage: 34.5% of 110 nests) was significantly higher than that of photographed ones (incubation: 2.4% of 83 nests; nestling: 11.1% of 81 nests). Among different nest types, open cup nests in shrub and trees were most affected by photography, in both incubation and nestling stages. Of five factors investigated, including three natural factors (nest stage, structure and position), and two anthropogenic factors (photography and distance to forest edge), only photographic disturbance and nest structure had significant effects (open nests had higher predation). The feeding frequency at nests when photographers were present was not strongly different from when they were not present. Human activity therefore had no negative effects on the birds, but showed a positive effect on their nesting success, in terms of reducing nest predation rates. However, there needs to be further assessment of other aspects of nesting (e.g., clutch size, duration of nestlings in nests), and other kinds of stress responses (e.g., hormonal changes), before the total effect of bird photography can be understood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100036
JournalAvian Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird photography
  • Bird reproduction
  • Ecotourism
  • Human disturbance
  • Nest predation


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