Economic Impact

Birds, Birdwatching and the U.S. Economy

The latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reported thate in 2011, 47 million people observed birds around their homes or on trips. Those birding experiences generated more than $100 billion in total industry output. Access the  National Survey.

The Studies and the Statistics

According to the 2011  National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation:

  • 46.7 million Americans enjoy watching and feeding birds.
  • $107 billion is spent on birdwatching equipment and travel in the U.S.
  • 666,000 jobs are created due to birdwatching.
  • $13 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue results from birdwatching.
  • 17.8 million Americans travel to see birds, putting millions into local economies.

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.

According to a 2010  report by the National Association of Conservation Districts, wildlife ranging from bats and bees to butterflies and birds provides an estimated value of from $4 billion to $6 billion in pollination services annually in the United States.

Birds have been estimated to consume 98% of certain insect pests, including codling moths, enhancing agricultural production. Birds pollinate many plant species, particularly flowers. Purple Martins keep pesky mosquitoes in check. More on this from the  Smithsonian Institution.

Last Updated: June 2, 2016