Birds, Bird watching and the U.S. Economy
More than 45 million people watch birds around their homes and away from home, according to the preliminary findings of the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation produced by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, joining other wildlife watchers in contributing a total of nearly $80 billion to the U.S. economy.
Cool Facts and Figures
Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis, an addendum to the 2011 National Survey, shows that bird watchers spend nearly $41 billion annually on trips and equipment. Local community economies benefit from the $14.9 billion that bird watchers spend on food, lodging and transportation. In 2011, 666,000 jobs were created as a result of bird watching expenditures.
In a 2011 study commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Southwick and Associates reported that combined outdoor recreation sales (gear and trips) for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching - including bird watching - totaled $325 billion per year.
A 2011 study by Texas A&M University concluded that nature tourism -- dominated by bird watching -- brings in over $300 million a year to the Rio Grande Valley economy. This direct economic contribution led to a total county-level economic output of $344.4 million and 4,407 full and part-time jobs annually.
Birds have been estimated to consume 98 percent of certain insect pests, including codling moths, enhancing agricultural production. Birds pollinate many plant species, particularly flowers. Purple martins keep pesky mosquitoes in check, according to the Smithsonian Institution.