The effectiveness of bird hides in mitigating recreational disturbances of birdwatchers

Anson T.H. MA, S.L. NG, Ting On Lewis CHEUNG, Theresa Wing Ling LAM

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Bird hides are often built to ameliorate the disturbance of birdwatchers at birdwatching sites. However, the effectiveness of such shelters is rarely evaluated. This study investigated the recreational disturbances induced by birdwatchers at Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong and examined the effectiveness of bird hides in mitigating birdwatcher impacts. A bird disturbance survey was conducted to record the disturbances caused by birdwatchers and responses shown by birds at three sampling sites in Mai Po Nature Reserve. A total of 469 observations were recorded in 25 field days from Oct 2019 to April 2020. The results indicated that bird hides significantly mitigated the frequency of disturbance and level of response of birds. With a bird hide, the frequency of disturbance was lower than the unsheltered site given that both sites have a similar level of visitation, yet, disturbance frequency was not significantly lower if the bird hide was highly utilized by birdwatchers. Birds had shown less vigorous and slower responses to disturbances at sites with bird hides than that without. On the other hand, at those sites with bird hides, birds responded at a farther distance than birds at the unsheltered site, which a longer distance may represent a greater level of disturbance. Upon disturbances, birds at the unsheltered site tended to stay in the original area, while birds around bird hides tend to settle further from the original habitat. Visual disturbances were well avoided at bird hides when compared to an unsheltered environment, however, disturbance from noise was found to be more prevalent at bird hides. Implications of these findings were discussed, and recommendations regarding the use, setting, and design of bird hides, and visitor management were given. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number126181
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Early online date04 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


Ma, A. T. H., Ng, S. L., Cheung, L. T. O., & Lam, T. W. L. (2022). The effectiveness of bird hides in mitigating recreational disturbances of birdwatchers. Journal for Nature Conservation, 67. Retrieved from


  • Bird conservation
  • Bird hide
  • Birdwatching
  • Mitigation measure
  • Recreational disturbance
  • Visitor management


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