Text for Birding in the United States: a demographic and economic analysis addendum to the 2006 national survey of fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation

              U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Birding in the United States:
A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
Report 2006-4U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
June 2009, Amended July 2009
Erin Carver
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Economics
Arlington VA
This report is intended to complement the National and State reports from the
2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
The conclusions are the author’s and do not represent official positions of the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The author thanks Sylvia Cabrera and Richard Aiken for their input into this report.
Birding in the United States:
A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
Report 2006-42 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Contents
Introduction.......................................................................3
Birders...........................................................................4
Where and What are They Watching? � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �10
Avidity � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �10
The Economics of Bird Watching..................................................11
Total Industry Output � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �13
Employment and Employment Income � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �13
Federal and State Taxes � � � � ��� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � ��� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �13
Conclusion.......................................................................14
References.......................................................................15Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 3
Introduction
Erin Carver/USFWS
The following report provides up-to-date
information so birders and policy
makers can make informed decisions
regarding the management of birds and
their habitats. This 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 economic measure of birding. It
estimates how much birders spend on
their hobby and the economic impact of
these expenditures.
By understanding who birders are, they
can be more easily reached and informed
about pressures facing birds and bird
habitats. Conversely, by knowing who is
likely not a birder, or who is potentially
a birder, information can be more
effectively tailored. The economic impact
estimates presented here can be used by
resource managers and policy makers
to demonstrate the economic might of
birders and, by extension, the economic
impact of birds.
All data presented here are from the
wildlife-watching section of the 2006
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting,
and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
(FHWAR). It is the most comprehensive
survey of wildlife recreation in the United
States. Overall, 11,300 detailed wildlife-watching
interviews were completed
with a response rate of 78 percent. The
Survey focused on 2006 participation and
expenditures by U.S. residents 16 years
of age and older.
4 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Birders
In 2006, there were 48 million
birdwatchers or birders, 16 years of age
and older, in the United States—about
21 percent of the population. What is
a birder? The National Survey uses a
conservative definition. To be counted as
a birder, an individual must have either
taken a trip one mile or more from home
for the primary purpose 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 and observing
captive birds also did not count.
Backyard birding or watching birds
around the home is the most common
form of bird-watching. Eighty-eight
percent (42 million) of birders are
backyard birders. The more active form
of birding, taking trips away from home,
is less common with 42 percent (20
million) of birders partaking.
The average birder is 50 years old
and more than likely has a better than
average income and education. She is
slightly more likely to be female and
highly likely to be white. There is also a
good chance that this birder lives in the
south in an urban area. Does this paint
an accurate picture of a birder? Like
all generalizations the description of an
“average” birder does not reflect the
variety of people who bird, with millions
falling outside this box. The tables and
charts show numbers and participation
rates (the percentage of people who
participate) of birders by various
demographic breakdowns.
The tendency of birders to be middle-age
or older is reflected in both the number of
birders and participation rates. Looking
at the different age categories in Table
1, the greatest number of birders were
in the 55 plus age group. People over the
age of 55 had the highest participation
rates while the participation rate was
particularly low for people ages 16 to 24.
Chart 1. Birders in the United States: 2006
(16 years of age and older.)
Total Birders 48 million
Around-the-home 42 million
Away-from-home 20 million
Table 1. Age Distribution of the U.S. Population and Birders: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older. Numbers in thousands.)
Age U.S. Population Number of Birders Participation Rate
16 to 24 31,564 2,607 8%
25 to 34 37,468 4,825 13%
35 to 44 45,112 10,168 23%
45 to 54 44,209 11,088 25%
55 plus 70,891 19,097 27%
Chart 2. Birders’ Participation Rate by Age
U.S. Average: 21% ▼
16 to 24 8%
25 to 34 13%
35 to 44 23%
45 to 54 25%
55 plus 27%
Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 5
The higher the income and education
level the more likely a person is to
be a birder. Twenty-nine percent of
people who live in households that earn
$75,000 or more were bird-watchers—8
percent above the national average of 21
percent. Education, which is often highly
correlated with income, shows the same
trend. People with less than high school
education participated at 12 percent—far
below the national average—while people
with at least a college degree had the
highest participation rate at 28 percent.
See Tables 2 and 3 for more information.
Unlike hunting and fishing where men
were overwhelmingly in the majority, a
larger percent of birders were women—
54 percent in 2006 (See Chart 5).
Chart 3. Birders’ Participation Rate by Income
U.S. Average: 21% ▼
Less than $20,000 15%
$20,000 to $29,999 17%
$30,000 to $49,999 22%
$50,000 to $74,999 27%
$75,000 or more 29%
Chart 4. Birders’ Participation Rate by Education
U.S. Average: 21% ▼
11 years or less 12%
High School Graduate 17%
Some College 23%
College Graduate + 28%
Chart 5. Percent of Birders by Gender: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older.)
Table 2. Income Distribution of the U.S. Population and Birders: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older. Numbers in thousands.)
Income U.S. Population Number of Birders Participation Rate
Less than $20,000 26,046 3,942 15%
$20,000 to $29,999 21,898 3,680 17%
$30,000 to $49,999 39,209 8,691 22%
$50,000 to $74,999 33,434 9,000 27%
$75,000 or more 50,678 14,749 29%
Table 3. Educational Distribution of the U.S. Population and Birders: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older. Numbers in thousands.)
Education U.S. Population Number of Birders Participation Rate
11 years or less 34,621 4,300 12%
High School Graduate 78,073 13,279 17%
Some College 53,019 12,369 23%
College Graduate + 63,531 17,837 28%
Male
46%
Female
54%
Dave Menke/USFWS
6 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Excepting people that categorize their
race as “Other,” birders are not a racially
or ethnically diverse group. Eighty-eight
percent of birders identified
themselves as white. The scarcity of
minority birders is not just a reflection
of their relatively low numbers in the
population at large; it’s also a function of
low participation rates. The participation
rates of Hispanics, African-Americans,
and Asians were all 8 percent or lower
while the rate for whites, 24 percent, was
slightly above the 21 percent national
average. Those that chose “Other,”
however, had a participation rate
(21 percent) the same as the national
average.
The sparser populated an area, the more
likely its residents were to watch birds.
The participation rate for people living
in small cities and rural areas was 27
percent—6 percent above the national
average. Whereas large metropolitan
areas (1 million residents or more) had
the greatest number of birders, their
residents had a low participation rate of
17 percent. See Table 5.
Chart 6. Birders’ Participation Rate by Race and Ethnicity: 2006
U.S. Average: 21% ▼
Hispanic 8%
White 24%
African American 6%
Asian 7%
Other 21%
Table 4. Racial and Ethnic Distribution of the U.S. Population and Birders: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older. Numbers in thousands.)
Race U.S. Population Number of Birders Participation Rate
Hispanic 29,218 2,428 8%
White 189,255 44,497 24%
African American 25,925 1,625 6%
Asian 10,104 734 7%
Other 3,960 837 21%
Table 5. Percent of U.S. Population Who Birded by Residence: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older. Numbers in thousands.)
Metropolitan
Statistical Area U.S. Population Number of Birders Participation Rate
1,000,000 or more 120,356 20,545 17%
250,000 to 999,999 46,506 6,779 15%
Less than 249,000 23,562 4,295 18%
Outside MSA 38,820 10,597 27%
Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 7
Participation rates are varied across the United States. However, the highest participation rates are prevalent in the northern half of the country, where the top 5 States include Montana, Maine, Vermont, Minnesota, and Iowa. See Chart 7 for more details.
Chart 7. Birding Participation Rates by State Residents: 2006
U.S. Average: 21% ▼
Montana 40%
Maine 39%
Vermont 38%
Minnesota 33%
Iowa 33%
South Dakota 32%
New Hampshire 32%
Tennessee 31%
Washington 31%
Alaska 30%
Missouri 30%
Wyoming 30%
Idaho 28%
Connecticut 28%
Arkansas 28%
Kentucky 27%
Oregon 27%
Wisconsin 26%
Oklahoma 26%
Ohio 26%
Rhode Island 25%
Pennsylvania 25%
Colorado 25%
Indiana 24%
Virginia 24%
Massachusetts 24%
Nebraska 23%
New Mexico 23%
Michigan 23%
Kansas 21%
Utah 20%
Alabama 19%
Maryland 19%
Mississippi 19%
South Carolina 19%
Delaware 19%
North Carolina 19%
West Virginia 18%
Florida 17%
Arizona 17%
Illinois 16%
Nevada 16%
Georgia 15%
Louisiana 15%
New York 15%
California 15%
New Jersey 14%
Texas 14%
North Dakota 14%
Hawaii 10%8 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
There were more participants in the South region (33%) compared to the rest of the United States (see Figure 1). The Midwest had the second highest participation at 27 percent. The West and Northeast had lower participation of 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
Figure 1. Participation by Region of Residence: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older.)
West21%33%27%19%MidwestSouthNortheastAlaskaWashingtonIdahoOregonCaliforniaHawaiiNevadaUtahArizonaNew MexicoColoradoWyomingMontanaNorthDakotaMinnesotaIowaWisconsinOhioKentuckyVirginiaTennesseeGeorgiaIllinoisMissouriSouthDakotaNebaskaKansasOklahomaArkansasTexasAlabamaIndianaLouisianaMississippiSouthCarolinaNorth CarolinaFloridaWest VirginiaDelawareNew JerseyConnecticutRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireVermontMarylandPennsylvaniaMaineNew York MichiganBirding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 9
Bird watching by state residents tells only part of the story. Many people travel out-of-state to watch birds and some states are natural birding destinations. Wyoming reaped the benefits of this tourism with 73 percent of their total birders coming from other states. Four other states (Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico) had more than 45 percent of their total birders coming from other states. (See Table 6.)
Table 6. Birding by State Residents and Nonresidents: 2006
(Population 16 years of age and older. Numbers in thousands).
State
Total Birders
Percent
State Residents
Percent Nonresidents
Alabama
828
83%
17%
Alaska
429
34%
66%
Arizona
1,038
74%
26%
Arkansas
764
79%
21%
California
4,493
88%
12%
Colorado
1,229
73%
27%
Connecticut
857
91%
9%
Delaware
189
66%
34%
Florida
3,101
79%
21%
Georgia
1,210
88%
12%
Hawaii
205
49%
51%
Idaho
557
56%
44%
Illinois
1,784
87%
13%
Indiana
1,345
86%
14%
Iowa
842
93%
7%
Kansas
493
92%
–
Kentucky
1,041
84%
16%
Louisiana
552
94%
–
Maine
622
68%
32%
Maryland
980
84%
16%
Massachusetts
1,377
86%
14%
Michigan
1,997
89%
11%
Minnesota
1,448
93%
7%
Mississippi
535
79%
21%
Missouri
1,576
87%
13%
Montana
571
53%
47%
Nebraska
364
87%
–
Nevada
518
57%
43%
New Hampshire
548
60%
40%
New Jersey
1,132
83%
17%
New Mexico
641
54%
46%
New York
2,517
87%
13%
North Carolina
1,586
79%
21%
North Dakota
83
83%
–
Ohio
2,405
95%
5%
Oklahoma
765
94%
–
Oregon
1,046
74%
26%
Pennsylvania
2,669
91%
9%
Rhode Island
297
71%
–
South Carolina
809
78%
22%
South Dakota
283
68%
32%
Tennessee
1,838
79%
21%
Texas
2,476
94%
6%
Utah
639
57%
43%
Vermont
364
52%
47%
Virginia
1,572
89%
11%
Washington
1,853
83%
17%
West Virginia
398
67%
33%
Wisconsin
1,454
79%
21%
Wyoming
448
27%
73%
Note: A hyphen (–) denotes sample sizes that are too small to report reliably (9 or less). This sample size criteria is consistent with the “2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.”
Donna Dewhurst/USFWS10 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Where and What are They Watching?
Backyard birding is the most prevalent form of birding with 88 percent of participants watching birds from the comfort of their homes. Forty-two percent of birders travel more than a mile from home to bird watch, visiting both private and public lands.
What kinds of birds are they looking at? Seventy-seven percent reported observing waterfowl, making them the most watched type of bird. Birds of prey were also popular with 71 percent of birders watching them, followed in popularity by songbirds (69 percent) and other water birds such as herons and shorebirds (58 percent). See Chart 8.
Avidity
All people identified as birders in this report said that they took an active interest in birds—defined as trying to closely observe or identify different species. But what is the extent of their interest? In order to determine their “avidity” the number of days spent bird watching was considered.
Presumably because of the relative ease of backyard birding, birders around the home spent nine times as many days watching birds as did people who traveled more than a mile from home to bird watch. In 2006, the mean number of days for backyard birders was 124 and for away-from-home birders it was 14.
Table 7 shows how avidity has changed from 2001 to 2006. The only change that is significant at the 95 percent level is “Total Away-from-Home Birders.” As shown, the number of away-from-home birders has increased 8 percent as more birders are traveling to observe birds.
Chart 8. Types of Birds Observed by Away-From-Home Birders: 2006
Total, all birders 100%
Waterfowl 77%
Birds of Prey 71%
Songbirds 69%
Other water birds* 58%
Other birds** 44%
* shorebirds, herons, etc.
**pheasants, turkeys, etc.
Table 7. National Birding Trends
2001
2006
Percent Change*
Total Birders
45,951
47,693
4%
Around-the-home
40,306
41,821
4%
Away-from-home
18,342
19,860
8%
*
Total Days
5,467,841
5,473,398
0%
Around the home
5,159,259
5,202,536
1%
Away-from-home
308,583
270,861
–12%
Note: An asterisk denotes the change is significant at the 95% level. All other “percent changes” are not statistically significant.Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 11
The Economics of Bird Watching
Birders spend money on a variety of
goods and services for trip-related
and equipment-related purchases.
Trip-related expenditures include
food, lodging, transportation, and
other incidental expenses. Equipment
expenditures consist of binoculars,
cameras, camping equipment, and other
costs. By having ripple effects throughout
the economy, these direct expenditures
are only part of the economic impact of
birding. The effect on the economy in
excess of direct expenditures is known
as the multiplier effect. For example, an
individual may purchase a bird house
to enhance birding at home. Part of
the purchase price will stay with the
local retailer. The local retailer, in turn,
pays a wholesaler who in turn pays the
manufacturer of the bird houses. The
manufacturer then spends a portion of
this income to pay businesses supplying
the manufacturer. In this sense, each
dollar of local retail expenditures can
affect a variety of businesses. Thus,
expenditures associated with birding can
ripple through the economy by impacting
economic activity, employment, and
household income. To measure these
effects, a regional input-output modeling
method1 is utilized to derive estimates
for total industry output, employment,
employment income, and tax revenue
associated with birding.
1 The estimates for total industry output,
employment, employment income, and
federal and state taxes were derived using
IMPLAN, a regional input-output model
and software system.
Maslowski/USFWS
12 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Table 8 highlights birders’ trip-related and equipment-related expenditures in 20062. Birders spent an estimated $12 billion on trip expenditures and $24 billion on equipment expenditures in 2006. For trip expenditures, 57 percent was allocated for food and lodging, 35 percent was spent on transportation, and 7 percent was spent on other costs such as guide fees, user fees, and equipment rental. Equipment expenditures were relatively evenly distributed among wildlife watching equipment (29 percent), special equipment (35 percent), and other items (33 percent). Auxiliary equipment accounted for only 3 percent of all equipment expenditures.
2 The Survey does not have an expenditure category for birding. Therefore, expenditures are prorated by multiplying wildlife watching expenditures by a ratio to derive birding expenditures. For trip-related expenditures, the ratio includes only away-from-home birders and is (total number of away-from-home days watching birds)/(total number of away-from-home days watching wildlife). For equipment-related expenditures, the ratio includes both away-from-home birders and backyard birders. The equipment-related expenditure ratio is (total number of days watching birds)/(total number of days watching wildlife).
Table 8. Trip and Equipment Expenditures for Birding by Category: 2006
Trip-Related Expenditures*, total
$12,068,182,000
Food
$4,008,032,000
Lodging
$2,948,366,000
Transportation
$4,218,433,000
Other
$893,351,000
Equipment**, total
$23,659,542,000
Wildlife-watching equipment
$6,869,054,000
Auxilliary equipment
$742,276,000
Special Equipment
$8,240,519,000
Other Items
$7,807,693,000
*Trip-related expenditures include food, drink, lodging, public and private transportation, guide fees, pack trip or package fees, public and private land use access fees, equipment rental, boating costs, and heating and cooking fuel.
**Equipment expenditures consist of binoculars, cameras, bird food, nest boxes, day packs, and other wildlife-watching equipment. Auxiliary equipment includes tents, backpacking equipment, other camping equipment, and other auxilliary equipment. Special equipment purchases include boats, campers, trucks, and cabins while Other Items includes magazines, land leasing and ownership, membership dues, and plantings.Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 13
Total Industry Output
Table 9 depicts the economic effect of bird wattching expenditures in 2006. The trip and equipment expenditures of $36 billion in 2006 generated $82 billion in total industry output across the United States. Total industry output includes the direct, indirect, and induced effects of the expenditures associated with bird watching.
Direct effects are the initial effects or impacts of spending money; for example, an individual purchasing a bird house is an example of a direct effect. An example of an indirect effect would be the purchase of the bird house by a retailer from the manufacturer. Finally, induced effects refer to the changes in production associated with changes in household income (and spending) caused by changes in employment related to both direct and indirect effects. More simply, people who are employed by the retailer, by the wholesaler, and by the birdhouse manufacturer spend their income on various goods and services which in turn generate a given level of output (induced effects).
Employment and Employment Income
Table 9 shows that birding expenditures in 2006 created 671,000 jobs and $28 billion in employment income. Thus, each job had an average annual salary of $41,000. Jobs include both full and part-time jobs, with a job defined as one person working for at least part of the calendar year. Employment income consists of both employee compensation and proprietor income.
Federal and State Taxes
Federal and State tax revenues are derived from birding-related recreational spending. In 2006, $6 billion in State tax revenue and $4 billion in Federal tax revenue were generated.
Jason Carver
Table 9. Summary of Economic Impacts
Birders
47,693,000
Total Expenditures
$35,727,724,000
Total Output
$82,176,751,000
Jobs
671,000
Employment Income
$27,695,934,000
State Tax Revenues
$6,157,252,000
Federal Tax Revenues
$4,375,932,00014 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
Conclusion
This report presented information on the
participation and expenditure patterns
of 48 million birders in 2006. Trip-related
and equipment-related expenditures
associated with birding generated over
$82 billion in total industry output,
671,000 jobs, and $11 billion in local,
state, and federal tax revenue. This
impact was distributed across local, state,
and national economies.
John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis 15
References
MIG, Inc. IMPLAN System (2004 Data
and Software). 1940 South Greeley
Street, Suite 101, Stillwater, MN 55082.
2004.
U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and
Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of
Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 2006
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting,
and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
Washington DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office, October 2007.
Vernon Byrd/USFWS
16 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov
Cover photo: Art Sowis/USFWS