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Bird-watching participation boosts U.S. economy according to report

July 21, 2009 | 12:17 pm

A group of birders walking a wooden trail search out a bird brought to their attention by host and guide Dee Zeller, second from right.

A report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reveals that bird-watchers are a boon to the country's economy, contributing more than $36 billion in one year.

The report -- Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis -- shows that there are 48 million bird-watchers age 16 years and older in the nation.

An addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the new information focuses specifically on birders in the U.S. It identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are and what kinds of birds they watch. 

The study states that the average birder is 50 years old and likely to be female, with a better than average education and income.

Bird-watching participation rates in the U.S. average 21%. The top five states with the greatest participation include Montana (40%), Maine (39%), Vermont (38%), Minnesota (33%) and Iowa (33%).

California is near the bottom of the list at 15%, a percentage greater than only four other states (New Jersey, Texas and North Dakota at 14% and Hawaii at 10%).

By understanding who birders are,  they can be more easily reached and informed about issues facing birds and their habitats.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: A group of birders walking a wooden trail search out a bird brought to their attention by host and guide Dee Zeller, second from right. Credit: Ken Lubas/Los Angeles Times
 

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