how many bird watchers in the world

Around 96 million people in the U.S. closely observed, fed, or photographed birds; visited public parks to view birds; or maintained plantings and natural areas around the home for the benefit of birds in 2022. That’s more than 35% of the nation’s population aged 16 and over.

The eye-popping figures come from the latest Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The estimated total number of birdwatchers is more than double the figure cited in the previous USFWS survey, conducted in 2016.

Expand Your Birding at a Festival

Learning about birds and birding hotspots is facilitated by attending birding festivals. You can find festival listings here. A lot of these events include guided field trips, workshops, keynote speakers, special events, exhibits, and vendors.

The report, according to Amanda Rodewald, senior director of the Cornell Lab’s Center for Avian Population Studies, is a crucial resource for politicians to know about because it demonstrates how many of their constituents are concerned about the environment and conservation.

Additionally, Rodewald notes, “it highlights how wildlife, particularly birds, are economic engines that sustain local, regional, and national economies.” Because so many birds migrate, a state’s revenue from wildlife-related recreation may be connected to ecosystems that are healthy elsewhere. Ducks from the Prairie Pothole region, for example, travel by air to Arkansas, where hunters may pay to harvest them, or birdwatchers may pay to travel and see them. ”.

how many bird watchers in the world

But even with improved survey questions, what standards might be set? Some birdwatchers might bar individuals who don’t own a field guide and binoculars, can’t identify common birds in the area, or haven’t traveled to go birding. Some may demand a life list, the capacity to recognize a particular number of species, or other requirements. Additionally, birders would anticipate that other birders share other aspects of the community and comprehend at least some of the specific language used in birding. This is not to say that to be considered a birder, one has to go on a pelagic tour around the Pacific Ocean. But most people, I believe, would concur that seeing ducks on the pond and driving a mile to walk at the neighborhood park do not make one a birder.

Books: A field guide and binoculars are two essentials for birdwatching. Binoculars are purchased by many non-birders. But the main consumers of field guides are birders, along with libraries, colleges, and nature-related institutions such as wildlife refuges, museums, and Audubon chapters. It is difficult to determine how many copies of a book are sold because publishers view sales as proprietary information. (Amazon rankings give information about a book in relation to other books, but they don’t give a basis for estimating how many copies are sold.) But according to at least one source, in 2002 there were about 700,000 printed copies of the Sibley Guide to Birds and 250,000 printed copies of Kenn Kaufman’s Field Guide to Birds of North America. Several sources state that there are 2. All seven editions of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America have sold 75 million copies in print. Of course, there are many other field guides.

How many birders are there in America? For such a simple question, it turns out there are very few solid estimates. Indeed, there appears to be just one and it is cited repeatedly. Every few years, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) releases a survey called “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis.”

Magazines: There are several magazines dedicated to birding. The USPS requires that all periodicals complete and publish Form 3526 to be eligible for periodical postage rates. That information includes the print run for the most recent issue and the “paid distribution.” Birding reported a paid distribution of approximately 9,300 on its Form 3526 in October 2019. Birdwatching recently reported a paid distribution of about 12,000, and Bird Watcher’s Digest states that its printed magazine “reaches” 25,000 subscribers. However, these figures do not appear to include digital subscriptions, which are likely a significant and increasing number of subscriptions. Again, not all birders subscribe to birding magazines, but even accounting for digital subscriptions, these are very modest numbers.

Based on these numbers, FWS estimated that birder spending on equipment and travel generated nearly $96 billion in total industry output, 782,000 jobs, and $17 billion in tax revenue. That’s a lot of birding. There were similar FWS studies using similar methodologies with similar findings in 2003, 2007, and 2013.

More From Living Bird

The authors of the report advise against drawing direct comparisons between survey results from 2016 and 2022 because of modifications made to the data collection methodology. However, the latest survey results were made public in the midst of newspaper headlines and trending social media discussions that highlight the global surge in birdwatching that has occurred since the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. Participatory science initiatives from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, such as eBird and the Merlin Bird ID app, also demonstrate the increased interest in bird issues. For instance, there were more than 1 as of March 2023. 5 million active Merlin users in the U. S. greater than the 300,000 Merlin users in March 2020 by a factor of five Comparably, the number of eBird monthly checklist submissions has doubled, reaching 1 million from 600,000 in March 2020. 3 million by May 2023.

The USFWS survey also shows that birding is big business. In 2022, wildlife watching accounted for over six out of ten dollars spent on wildlife-related recreation (which also includes hunting and fishing). The most popular species among wildlife watchers was found to be birds. For an average of $2,188 per person, wildlife watchers spent over $250 billion last year on their hobby, including over $24 billion on supplies like binoculars, cameras, and bird food.

Sometimes that spending can add up just by virtue of a single rare bird. A 2023 study published in the journal People and Nature documented that when a Steller’s Sea-Eagle showed up on the New England coast in the winter of 2021–22, eager birders pumped more than $750,000 into the economies of Maine and Massachusetts.


How many people are bird watchers?

Around 96 million people in the U.S. closely observed, fed, or photographed birds; visited public parks to view birds; or maintained plantings and natural areas around the home for the benefit of birds in 2022. That’s more than 35% of the nation’s population aged 16 and over.

What is the average age of a bird watcher?

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.

How big is the birding industry?

This evolving demographic has spurred a surge in bird-related ecotourism. According to the Outdoor Recreation Economy report from The Hill, the industry generates $887 billion annually. Of that, The National Audubon Society says that bird watching is a $41 billion contribution to local and national economies.

Do bird watchers make money?

Turning a hobby into a career can feel frightening because it’s hard to see the value of your hobby as a paid profession. Yet ornithologists can make a good salary by sharing their love of birds with others.