Birds = $$$

Wildlife, in general, has a huge impact on our nation’s economy.  As reported in the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, Americans spent an estimated $156.3 billion on equipment, travel, licenses, and fees to participate in some form of fishing, hunting, or other wildlife-associated recreation such as birdwatching or outdoor photography in 2016. These findings are a win-win for the nation’s economy and wildlife. Revenue from the sale of licenses and tags, as well as excise taxes paid by hunters, anglers, and shooting sports enthusiasts support jobs, contribute to the economy, and sustain important wildlife management and habitat conservation in every state and U.S. territory.

Add to that the fact that avitourism, a segment of ecotourism specifically focused on birdwatching, is growing fast. The economic value of travel and tourism associated with bird festivals, migration events, or well-known birdwatching sites is fairly well understood.  However, birdwatchers are a diverse group, some travelling great distances to view rare birds, contributing significant time and financial resources – often on the spur of the moment – for viewing opportunities. This makes calculating economic value of this growing trend challenging. A recent study published in Human Dimensions of Wildlife: An International Journal used a unique approach to suggest that viewing of “vagrant” birds -- those outside their normal geographic range -- “represents a potentially substantial contribution to the economy” and is an important consideration for land use and development decisions that could have an impact not only on birds but also on tourism activity. Healthy bird habitats help to generate dollars and make sense. 

After all, birds need a place to rest and refuel, just as do people.