On Alert


A Great Blue Heron at Crissy Field needs to stay sharp amongst the roaming off-leash dogs.

6 responses

  1. Richard Drechsler

    Is the term “roaming off-leash” a tautology?

    The bird does not seem to be taking your advice,
    and has probably been staring in the same direction
    for the last hour.

    We should trust their judgment.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:35 am

    • Tautology or not… both words were descriptive and true. That heron was hunting and raised it’s head to keep an eye on the dog, which eventually chased the heron off. I had been with that bird for an hour. My statement about the lack of a leash was not judgmental, just an observation. They deal with many dangers during the course of their lives, and urban herons learn to manage in areas frequented by canines but it can cause them undue stress.

      October 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm

  2. ml

    I can understand that Birders wouldn’t want a dog around after waiting hours for a bird sighting. However, domesticated dogs pose little real danger to birds as they rarely, if ever, really catch them. I equate it to a friendly game of tag – clumsily I might add on the part of the dog. Birds, on the other hand, can fend for themselves pretty well. My dog and I have been attacked on occasion in the park when birds are protecting their nests. They swoop down and nip at your heads with surprise attackes. They’re tougher than they seem. Nature really does takes care of itself – Darwinism at work.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

    • I have noticed instances of birders complaining about dogs because it ruins the “birding experience” rather than out of true concern for the birds, but personally I could care less about a ruined photo or birding opportunity. My concern is for the birds’ welfare. Domesticated dogs do pose a danger. Birds don’t have to be caught to be harmed by dogs. They can be driven off of nesting sites and their hunting or foraging can be interrupted which can make the difference between surviving or not. I would never call the game of tag “friendly.” Perhaps the dogs are playing, but the birds are fleeing from a perceived predator and that is a stressful situation. I love dogs and I also appreciate dog owners who understand the responsibilities inherent in bringing them to sensitive natural areas.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

  3. ml

    I appreciate your perspective. Can you share where these sensitive bird areas are so that dog owners can be aware? In the city that is not always obvious. There are less and less places in the city where dogs can go off-leash anyway. And when I go on hiking trails outside of the city with my dog, I keep her on leash for her own safety against poison plants, ticks/bugs and other wildlife. So, danger can be perceived from different perspectives.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    • I appreciate your perspective as well. Most sensitive areas do have signage to let people know but often the signs are small and sometimes missed. It is best to stay alert for signs and, if unsure, err on the side of leash and voice control. There should be a lot of information online since this is such a hotly argued topic. Thanks again for your input. Take care.

      October 10, 2011 at 7:09 pm

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