Part of the Bay Area News Group

Birdwatchers no featherweights when contributing to the economy

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, July 16th, 2009 at 8:23 am in Bird Watching.

Birdwatching: Who’s watching who?
me & acorn

A new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds, and in doing so, birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which economic data are available.

“This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study further reinforces the importance of bird conservation,” said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for Conservation Advocacy. “The State of the Birds report released earlier this year found that one-third of all bird species in the U.S. are in decline or facing serious threats. This report confirms that losing these species could have significant economic consequences.”

Bluebird on the wing (Joe Oliver/Walnut Creek, CA)

The report — “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis” — shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.

Participation rates vary, but are generally greater in the northern half of the country. The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).

Spotted towhee gobbles some free seeds (Joe Oliver/Walnut Creek, CA)
32 Spotted Towhee

The report identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what kinds of birds they watch. In addition to demographic information, this report also provides an estimate of how much birders spend on their hobby and the economic impact of these expenditures.

The report is an addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The 2006 survey is the eleventh in a series of surveys conducted about every 5 years that began in 1955. The survey, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with state wildlife agencies and national conservation organizations, has become the reference for participation and expenditure information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States.

Red-winged blackbird in spring (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
blackbird in spring

The survey helps quantify how enjoyment of the outdoors and wildlife contributes to society and promotes a healthy economy.

** A copy of the “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis” can be downloaded at

In conjunction with the release of the birding report, the Service also issued another similar addendum to the 2006 Survey entitled, “Wildlife Watching Trends: 1991–2006 A Reference Report.” This report shows similar trends in wildlife-watching, a broader category that includes large and small-mammal viewing.

American goldfinch in backyard (Joe Oliver/Walnut Creek, CA)
51 American Goldfinch

** An overview of the Survey, and a wealth of other information, can be found on-line at:

See? I knew it! We’re all for the birds! /Gary

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

No Responses to “Birdwatchers no featherweights when contributing to the economy”

  1. Donna Says:

    For years, we had a California Towhee couple nesting in our neighborhood. Last year we saw them with a younger-appearing bird that we assumed was their child. The original couple seems to have disappeared, but a young male has been singing his heart out for weeks! Any ideas on what happened to the original pair or on what we can do to help our young romeo win a mate?

Leave a Reply