[CT Birds] Birdwatchers No Featherweights in Contributions to Economy

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jul 24 11:10:44 EDT 2009

Luke's questions are answered in the report:

"To be counted as a birder, an individual must have either taken a trip one mile or more from home for the purposes of observing birds and/or closely observed or tried to identify birds around the home.  Thus, people who happened to notice birds while they were mowing the lawn or picnicking at the beach were not counted as birders.  Trips to zoos or observing captive birds also did not count."

This might seem like a liberal definition to the likes of ctbirders, but it is important to know the context for the survey, which is to quantify different forms of recreation, and especially their economic value.  So, just as someone who buys a fishing licence and goes fishing maybe twice a year (like my 7-year old son) is deemed a "fisherman", someone who occasionally buys bird seed and tries to figure out what is eating it is considered a birder.  The survey does recognize that birding comes in different forms and at different levels, and goes on to break down activities: "Eight-eight percent (42 million) of birders are backyard birders."

As for differences among states, I too was surprised to see Montana so high on the list. At first.  But, the main reason for this is that the ranking is based on % of the state's population.  So, a state with a small population could easily have a high percent, without there being very many people involved.  

Also, many of the states that are high on the report's list are those where I suspect a large proportion of the population has a strong connection to nature and the outdoors (Montana, Maine, Iowa).  So, given the survey's definition, I think it's not too surprising that a large proportion of their populations meet the definition of birders.  In a state like Connecticut (and even more so New Jersey, New York, California) a large chunk of the population is in urban areas and probably plays little attention to nature.


Chris Elphick

Storrs, CT

elphick at sbcglobal.net

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