Rare Bird Ambassadors

Want to become a Rare Bird Ambassador?

Rare Bird Ambassador Code of Conduct

Detailed Instructions for Rare Bird Ambassadors

Want to become a Rare Bird Ambassador?

We are always looking to grow our team of Rare Bird Ambassadors.

As a Rare Bird Ambassador, you are making yourself available to be called into action should a rare bird turn up in your area. The goal is to have enough Ambassadors to cover all areas of the province assuming that not everyone will be available when needed.

Rare Bird Ambassadors will make contact with hosts of rare birds, help present possible viewing scenarios to them, and/or coordinate the viewing – sometimes by themselves and sometimes by recruiting other local birders and bird photographers to act as Ambassadors to help with crowd control or other site-specific duties where needed.

Another aspect of being a Rare Bird Ambassador is to communicate information about rare birds, when appropriate, to other Rare Bird Ambassadors or to the Ambassador panel if you are not able to attempt arranging access.

With the role comes responsibility. Finding out about a rare bird that isn’t public knowledge is a privilege, and Rare Bird Ambassadors are expected not to use the information they gain for personal viewing by themselves or their friends, unless it is in order to assess site logistics. Please keep a bird’s presence confidential unless/until the landowner approves of a viewing plan. As well, as a representative of the birding community you are expected to adhere at all times to OFO’s Code of Conduct and the Rare Bird Ambassadors Code of Conduct.

If this interests you, please complete the registration form.

Rare Bird Ambassador Code of Conduct

As a representative of the birding community you are expected to adhere at all times to OFO’s Code of Conduct.

All information is to be kept strictly confidential.

Do not use this as an opportunity to allow special access for your friends to see the bird.

Respect the process and the work of other ambassadors.

If you agree to help, you will have to drop everything and move quickly as birds don’t always stay for long. The Ambassador panel can help you find alternates so that you don’t have to be on the hook for too long.

Detailed Instructions for Ambassadors

These are guidelines, please contact the Ambassador panel if you have any questions or would like help with any steps.

Contacting the landowner

Be courteous. The owner does not “owe” you access and you should not pressure them into allowing it.

Introduce yourself, emphasize the privilege of having a rare bird and how much fun sharing it with others can be. Birders are really respectful, the team has experience doing this.

To help with brain-storming and to connect others who may know about the bird, contact the Ambassador panel with the general information (species and general circumstances).

Ensure others aware of the bird know that you are the single point of contact. This could entail posting publicly to let everyone know that the bird is currently being investigated by an Ambassador.

Consider posting publicly to state that the bird viewing is already being arranged.

Consider recommending to the property owner that they add a statement along with a post (e.g. if they had posted on Facebook) that access is being arranged.

Site visits

Typically it is helpful to do a site visit to talk to the owner in person and/or to assess the site-specific situations:

  • What’s parking like?
  • Will tripods be an issue?
  • Consider where people will stand. Does an area need cordoning off?
  • If there are adjacent neighbours, it may be important to discuss with them too.

Whenever possible have the site visit conducted by no more than two people. Do not invite more birders with you.

Finalizing access

Ensure you have all the rules clear.

If sign-ups are required, create a booking form (remember that sign-ups for time slots are the most work for everyone to manage, but are effective in some situations)

Think ahead of time how you will handle the situation if the bird is a no show for a time slot.

Be sure to post news of the bird and instructions publicly (e.g. Ontbirds, Birdnews, Discord Rare Bird Alert) and share in as many places as possible.

Do not allow people to sign up until the sign-up form is posted publicly. No one should have “inside access”.

If there is a finite number of people allowed (e.g. one time only access to a relatively small number of people) discuss with the Ambassador panel to come up with the most equitable approach. A lottery (could be weighted by things like distance from bird, whether they have seen the bird already, size of Ontario list, etc.) or first-come, first-served are two approaches that offer fairness and transparency.

If the location is to remain a secret, ensure this is communicated with people clearly. Have a way to share the location before it is their turn to visit.

If the location is to be public knowledge, contact the Ambassador panel to create an eBird hotspot. If the location is to remain a secret, save this for after the bird/birders have gone.


Some expenses (e.g. caution tape, guest book, donation jar) will be reimbursed by OFO. Please save your receipts, scan and email the images to the [Ambassador Panel](mailto: ambassadors@ofo.ca) as soon as possible or to discuss other potential expenses before you purchase them.

Caution tape can be purchased at most hardware stores (e.g. Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware).

After the bird/birders have gone

Remember to thank the hosts again. Ask for their feedback - was there anything that they think we could improve on? Would they be willing to do a testimonial for the Rare Bird Ambassador Program web page?

Fill out an OFO Certificate of Appreciation nomination form.

Please pass on any feedback you have to the [Ambassador Panel](mailto: ambassadors@ofo.ca) so they can ensure they are incorporated into future situations.

If the location remained a secret, contact the [Ambassador Panel](mailto: ambassadors@ofo.ca) to create an eBird hotspot and once it is created inform the visitors that they may now enter their eBird checklists and/or share the location publicly elsewhere.

Sightings that should be discussed with the Ambassador panel

Please contact the [Ambassador Panel](mailto: ambassadors@ofo.ca) for advice when dealing with these species/scenarios:

  • Any species exhibiting breeding behaviour
  • Owls
  • Any other bird you think could generate controversy