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Re: [CALBIRDS] Per/capita birders by state; California 2nd to last

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  • creagrus
    Part of the problem with the survey is in the definition for birdwatcher/birder used in the project. To be counted as a birder one had to (a) travel away
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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      Part of the 'problem' with the survey is in the definition for
      'birdwatcher/birder' used in the project. To be counted as a 'birder'
      one had to (a) travel away from home at least once a year to look at
      birds or (b) identify birds around their home. Some 88% of the 'birders'
      listed were of the second type: backyard birdwatchers. That means
      virtually 9 out of every 10 person listed as a 'birder' has a backyard
      with birds in it.

      From a demographic standpoint, a much higher percentage of people
      living in small states like Montana or Wyoming have back yards with
      birds in them; actually, this goes to much of the Midwest and South and
      Northeast also. In California, a very high percentage of people live in
      huge metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, without much in the way of
      a back yard and, even if they have one, the birds are not very
      interesting or colorful (Rock Pigeon, House Sparrow). Not much
      'migration' to show seasonality that easily 'hooks' folks with backyards
      in the East or northern U.S. I am not sure how that applies to Texas --
      there may be cultural aspects here -- but the smaller percentage of
      'birders' in California surely has a lot to do with demographics, and
      probably rather little to do with anything else.

      Don Roberson
      Pacific Grove
      a very small town
    • Lidia Seebeck
      Having spent three years in Montana... I can tell you that birding is much more popular up there. It was a rare morning when I bundled up in subzero temps to
      Message 2 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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        Having spent three years in Montana...

        I can tell you that birding is much more popular up there. It was a rare morning when I bundled up in subzero temps to go look at waterfowl on a geothermal pond in the Gallatin Valley, that I was alone there. The average was four vehicles by 6 AM, more on a weekend. (This in a valley of only 60,000 people total)

        Just an example.

        Part of the obsession in Montana has got to do with migration and the fact that waterfowl congregate in incredible numbers in some spots (Central Ponds, Ennis, Quake Lake, Freezeout Lake, etc). Part of it is that Montanans are already going outside on virtually any day in which going outside does not give you frostburn in the lungs. Ice fishing, skiing, fly fishing, hiking, etc. Californians tend to stay inside with the A/C on a lot more. Montanans also learn to observe wildlife a lot more while with the dad on the tractor. Plowing a field can get pretty old sometimes and watching birds is one way to relieve the boredom. Part of the reason-- a big one-- is that the pace of life up there is a lot slower. The average commute home in Montana is about ten minutes. Up there, you have time to go birding.

        Don't know how much of how that would help California--- a lot of this is almost cultural up there-- but at least knowing some of the factors might be a little help.
        Lidia Seebeck
        lidia@...
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Joseph Morlan
        To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Monday, June 06, 2005 9:03 AM
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] Per/capita birders by state; California 2nd to last


        Calbirders,

        The US Fish & Wildlife Service has published the results of its 2001
        survey, "Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic
        Analysis."

        http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2001_birding.pdf

        It contains much interesting information on the status and impact of
        birding in the US, but one set of data struck me as disturbing. The chart
        on page 9 ranks the percentage of the population over 16 who watch birds by
        state. California and Texas, at 14% each, rank second to last. Only
        Hawaii at 9% has fewer birders on a percentage basis. Montana ranked first
        with 44%.

        Why do the two states with the most birds have so few birders?

        Page 10 breaks the data down by broader regions. California is part of the
        Western Region which has the 2nd lowest birder rate at 19% just ahead of
        last place West South-Central (including Texas) at 17%. In both cases
        these scores are brought down by 2nd to last place California and Texas.

        Perhaps there are defects in the methodology. E.g. a chart showing the
        number of nonresident birders in each state has a paragraph suggesting that
        Wyoming benefited from being a natural birding destination and thus
        attracting a lot of out-of-state birders (page 11). Something seems
        clearly wrong with that analysis.

        But I do get the feeling that California is lagging behind the rest of the
        country in the popularity of birding and in cultural acceptance of birding.
        The US as a whole ranks well behind parts of Northern Europe in that
        respect. I also feel that California leads in environmental awareness and
        is generally more environmentally friendly than much of the rest of the
        country. Thus it seems odd that we have so few birders.

        Does anybody have any ideas on what we can do to help pull California out
        of the birding cellar?

        --
        Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA 94044 jmorlan (at) ccsf.org
        Fall Birding Classes start Sep 13 http://fog.ccsf.edu/~jmorlan/
        California Bird Records Committee http://www.wfo-cbrc.org/cbrc/


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      • Lidia Seebeck
        Apologies, forgot the posting rules. Blame the lack of caffeine. Lidia Seebeck Riverside CA lidia@seebeck.us ... From: Joseph Morlan To:
        Message 3 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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          Apologies, forgot the posting rules. Blame the lack of caffeine.
          Lidia Seebeck
          Riverside CA
          lidia@...
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Joseph Morlan
          To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Monday, June 06, 2005 9:03 AM
          Subject: [CALBIRDS] Per/capita birders by state; California 2nd to last


          Calbirders,

          The US Fish & Wildlife Service has published the results of its 2001
          survey, "Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic
          Analysis."

          http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2001_birding.pdf

          It contains much interesting information on the status and impact of
          birding in the US, but one set of data struck me as disturbing. The chart
          on page 9 ranks the percentage of the population over 16 who watch birds by
          state. California and Texas, at 14% each, rank second to last. Only
          Hawaii at 9% has fewer birders on a percentage basis. Montana ranked first
          with 44%.

          Why do the two states with the most birds have so few birders?

          Page 10 breaks the data down by broader regions. California is part of the
          Western Region which has the 2nd lowest birder rate at 19% just ahead of
          last place West South-Central (including Texas) at 17%. In both cases
          these scores are brought down by 2nd to last place California and Texas.

          Perhaps there are defects in the methodology. E.g. a chart showing the
          number of nonresident birders in each state has a paragraph suggesting that
          Wyoming benefited from being a natural birding destination and thus
          attracting a lot of out-of-state birders (page 11). Something seems
          clearly wrong with that analysis.

          But I do get the feeling that California is lagging behind the rest of the
          country in the popularity of birding and in cultural acceptance of birding.
          The US as a whole ranks well behind parts of Northern Europe in that
          respect. I also feel that California leads in environmental awareness and
          is generally more environmentally friendly than much of the rest of the
          country. Thus it seems odd that we have so few birders.

          Does anybody have any ideas on what we can do to help pull California out
          of the birding cellar?

          --
          Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA 94044 jmorlan (at) ccsf.org
          Fall Birding Classes start Sep 13 http://fog.ccsf.edu/~jmorlan/
          California Bird Records Committee http://www.wfo-cbrc.org/cbrc/


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        • sgloverccc@aol.com
          Hi all, Apparently the list gurus are away from their computers so I thought I would try to squeeze one more message in before the thread is closed. First,
          Message 4 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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            Hi all,
            Apparently the list gurus are away from their computers so I thought I would
            try to squeeze one more message in before the thread is closed.
            First, the original number of 46 million bird watchers in the US clearly
            depends on an extremely liberal use of the word bird watcher. I would bet that
            of those 46 million at least 45 million wouldn't be what we would normally call
            a bird watcher. Even a million sounds an order of magnitude high.
            Second, Last year I traveled around Nebraska, South Dakota (Black Hills, Mt.
            Rushmore etc.), all the way across North Dakota (including Lostwood NWR),
            into Minnesota (including a half day at Agassiz NWR and also up into Manitoba
            (Riding Mt. Pro. Park). In 10 days I didn't see a single bird watcher! I just
            returned from a trip to Virginia, NC, SC, e. Tenn., ne. Georgia, including
            Shenandoah, almost the entirety of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky
            Mts. In Shenandoah we saw four birders. On the entire parkway we saw 2. In
            Great Smoky Mts. we saw none.
            And the thing is, this didn't strike me as unusual at all. Unless you go to
            a place that really concentrates birders like Pt. Reyes or the hotspots like
            coastal Texas or se. Arizona you don't run into very many birders. As much as
            we like to think that the popularity of birding is exploding, the rather
            serious people like ourselves are still relatively scarce.
            In defense of California, I once (probably 10 years ago) looked through the
            ABA directory (at least a good indication of a reasonably serious birder) and
            counted how many birders there were in the East Bay counties of Alameda and
            Contra Costa. It was several hundred. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot but
            at the time it was more than the total membership for something like 35 other
            states!
            Now I do agree that tossing out seed and saying "ooh, look at the pretty
            birdy" could be a stepping stone to becoming a more serious birder. If those
            types are increasing at a higher rate in other states then perhaps we are being
            left behind. But, as far as serious birders, I suspect California holds it's
            own pretty well.
            Mi dos pesos,
            Steve Glover
            Dublin


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Lidia Seebeck
            There are a lot of birders out here. Look at CALBIRDS, the membership is over 1100. However, in view of our gigantic population, it s not that much. Montana
            Message 5 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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              There are a lot of birders out here. Look at CALBIRDS, the membership is over 1100. However, in view of our gigantic population, it's not that much. Montana has a very low population (spend a few winters there and you will know why) but a fair number of birders. Yes, you do have to go to the hotspots (Central Ponds, EGRA, the fish hatchery, etc) to find them. However, I remember many a day spent playing hooky on my thesis when I did meet other birders on the trails. Here in CA, that seems rare. Even when the Little Gull was possibly flitting around Fairmount Park last Christmas, I never actually saw another birder in the nine or so hours my husband and I spent at the park (i.e. never saw anyone else with a scope, binocs, or birdbook either on foot or in a car)

              I really think there is just something about the culture out here that makes people not so interested in birds.

              Finally, I'll point out that it was a Black-billed Magpie in my backyard in Colorado which got me into birding. So yes, it can happen.
              Lidia Seebeck
              lidia@...
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: sgloverccc@...
              To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, June 06, 2005 10:58 AM
              Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Per/capita birders by state; California 2nd to last


              Hi all,
              Apparently the list gurus are away from their computers so I thought I would
              try to squeeze one more message in before the thread is closed.
              First, the original number of 46 million bird watchers in the US clearly
              depends on an extremely liberal use of the word bird watcher. I would bet that
              of those 46 million at least 45 million wouldn't be what we would normally call
              a bird watcher. Even a million sounds an order of magnitude high.
              Second, Last year I traveled around Nebraska, South Dakota (Black Hills, Mt.
              Rushmore etc.), all the way across North Dakota (including Lostwood NWR),
              into Minnesota (including a half day at Agassiz NWR and also up into Manitoba
              (Riding Mt. Pro. Park). In 10 days I didn't see a single bird watcher! I just
              returned from a trip to Virginia, NC, SC, e. Tenn., ne. Georgia, including
              Shenandoah, almost the entirety of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky
              Mts. In Shenandoah we saw four birders. On the entire parkway we saw 2. In
              Great Smoky Mts. we saw none.
              And the thing is, this didn't strike me as unusual at all. Unless you go to
              a place that really concentrates birders like Pt. Reyes or the hotspots like
              coastal Texas or se. Arizona you don't run into very many birders. As much as
              we like to think that the popularity of birding is exploding, the rather
              serious people like ourselves are still relatively scarce.
              In defense of California, I once (probably 10 years ago) looked through the
              ABA directory (at least a good indication of a reasonably serious birder) and
              counted how many birders there were in the East Bay counties of Alameda and
              Contra Costa. It was several hundred. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot but
              at the time it was more than the total membership for something like 35 other
              states!
              Now I do agree that tossing out seed and saying "ooh, look at the pretty
              birdy" could be a stepping stone to becoming a more serious birder. If those
              types are increasing at a higher rate in other states then perhaps we are being
              left behind. But, as far as serious birders, I suspect California holds it's
              own pretty well.
              Mi dos pesos,
              Steve Glover
              Dublin


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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            • creagrus
              One more thought before I end my part in this thread. I think it was William Tecumsah Sherman who said: There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Statistics
              Message 6 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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                One more thought before I end my part in this thread. I think it was
                William Tecumsah Sherman who said: "There are lies, damn lies, and
                statistics." Statistics sometimes can and do completely misrepresent
                reality.

                According to the survey, 22% of all Americans are 'birders.' We have
                already seen that essentially 90% of them are 'backyard birders' and
                would not qualify in what this chat group considers 'birders.' But set
                that aside for the moment.

                Joe asks "Why do the two states [California and Texas] with the most
                birds have so few birders?"

                California and Texas have 14% of the population as 'birders,' according
                to the report, or 8% off the average. Further statistics show that
                'birders' are more common in rural areas than urban areas; California's
                population is packed into urban areas, immediately correcting a
                significant percentage of the 'low' score. Perhaps just as important
                are the statistics on racial/cultural attitudes. 24% of those assigned
                to "white" race are 'birders' but the statistics for 'birders' among the
                minorities are: Hispanics 9%, African Americans 6%, Asians 6%. I
                believe the statistics on California show that a very significant
                percent of the State's population is now Hispanic (maybe up to 35-40%?)
                and the same can be said for Texas. California also has
                disproportionately large populations of other minorities, in comparision
                with states like Montana.

                I believe that these statistics -- the proportionately low interest in
                birds by urban Americans and by minorities -- completely explain the 8%
                difference from the avaerage in California.

                Joe asks what can be done to get us out of the cellar? Statistically,
                it would be to get urban, Hispanic and other minority persons interested
                in birds. And perhaps that can best be done by having policies that
                permits low-income, urban, minority people to enjoy average American
                prosperity and have decent lives with sufficient free time to enjoy
                birds, among other things. But now I'm wandering into politics . . . so
                sorry.

                D. Roberson
                Pacific Grove "America's Last Hometown" [yes, City Hall actually has
                that motto].
              • John Harris
                Don et al., The quote lies, damned lies and statistics is of somewhat obscure origin but was attributed to Disraeli (British Prime Minister) by no less than
                Message 7 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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                  Don et al.,
                  The quote "lies, damned lies and statistics" is of somewhat obscure origin
                  but was attributed to Disraeli (British Prime Minister) by no less than
                  Mark Twain. Further speculation on the origin of this phrase can be found
                  in The American Statistician, vol. 18, no. 5, December 1964.

                  I second your observation about urban vs rural populations. My classes
                  are filled with students from urban environments. I frequently take
                  groups on field trips and nearly always have someone who has never been on
                  any kind of hike (a remarkable statement!). I taught a bird class for
                  non-science students two years ago and many of the students did not even
                  recognize a robin! In contrast, growing up in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and
                  South Dakota I found that many people who would not be considered birders
                  by any stretch of the imagination could recognize quite a few species and
                  some of the more frequently heard songs.
                  We certainly have a lot of work to do here!

                  John H. Harris
                  Professor of Biology
                  Mills College
                  5000 MacArthur Blvd.
                  Oakland, CA 94613
                  (510) 430-2027
                  johnh@...


                  On Mon, 6 Jun 2005, creagrus wrote:

                  > One more thought before I end my part in this thread. I think it was
                  > William Tecumsah Sherman who said: "There are lies, damn lies, and
                  > statistics." Statistics sometimes can and do completely misrepresent
                  > reality.
                  >
                  > According to the survey, 22% of all Americans are 'birders.'  We have
                  > already seen that essentially 90% of them are 'backyard birders' and
                  > would not qualify in what this chat group considers 'birders.' But set
                  > that aside for the moment.
                  >
                  > Joe asks "Why do the two states [California and Texas] with the most
                  > birds have so few birders?"
                  >
                  > California and Texas have 14% of the population as 'birders,' according
                  > to the report, or 8% off the average.  Further statistics show that
                  > 'birders' are more common in rural areas than urban areas; California's
                  > population is packed into urban areas, immediately correcting a
                  > significant percentage of the 'low' score.  Perhaps just as important
                  > are the statistics on racial/cultural attitudes. 24% of those assigned
                  > to "white" race are 'birders' but the statistics for 'birders' among the
                  > minorities are: Hispanics 9%, African Americans 6%, Asians 6%.  I
                  > believe the statistics on California show that a very significant
                  > percent of the State's population is now Hispanic (maybe up to 35-40%?)
                  > and the same can be said for Texas. California also has
                  > disproportionately large populations of other minorities, in comparision
                  > with states like Montana.
                  >
                  > I believe that these statistics -- the proportionately low interest in
                  > birds by urban Americans and by minorities -- completely explain the 8%
                  > difference from the avaerage in California.
                  >
                  > Joe asks what can be done to get us out of the cellar?  Statistically,
                  > it would be to get urban, Hispanic and other minority persons interested
                  > in birds. And perhaps that can best be done by having policies that
                  > permits low-income, urban, minority people to enjoy average American
                  > prosperity and have decent lives with sufficient free time to enjoy
                  > birds, among other things. But now I'm wandering into politics . . . so
                  > sorry.
                  >
                  > D. Roberson
                  > Pacific Grove "America's Last Hometown" [yes, City Hall actually has
                  > that motto].
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Unsubscribe: mailto:CALBIRDS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  > Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CALBIRDS
                  > Listowners: mailto:CALBIRDS-owner@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  > For vacation suspension of mail go to the website. Click on Edit My
                  > Membership and set your mail option to No Email. Or, send a blank email
                  > to these addresses:
                  > Turn off email delivery: mailto:CALBIRDS-nomail@yahoogroups.com
                  > Resume email delivery: mailto:CALBIRDS-normal@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
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                  >
                  >

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                • Brooke McDonald
                  Kaufman s got his Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America guide out in Spanish. In Spanish it s Kaufman guia de campo a las aves de norteamerica.
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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                    Kaufman's got his "Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America" guide out in Spanish. In Spanish it's "Kaufman guia de campo a las aves de norteamerica."

                    Purchasing copies and donating them to local libraries might help us to make inroads in the Hispanic populations in the state. I'm under the impression that many of them are interested in birds and conservation, but the resources and outreach haven't been there.

                    Other than the depressing lack of birders in minority communities, the USFWS survey seemed to me to be overly broad in the definition of what a birder is, as many have noted here. Defining "expert" birders as those who can identify more than 41 species seems like they set the "expert" bar pretty low. And this puts only 8% of all their birders into the "expert" category. And their demand curve for birding trips indicating that birders who spend 50 bucks on a birding trip are only likely to take one or two trips a year really gave me a good chuckle.... would that every birding trip only cost 50 dollars!



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • JONES,JENNIFER MARIE
                    I volunteer at Debs Park, which is run by National Audubon and leased from the city of L.A. It s a terrific place, 200+ acres of oak/walnut scrubland tucked in
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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                      I volunteer at Debs Park, which is run by National Audubon and leased from
                      the city of L.A. It's a terrific place, 200+ acres of oak/walnut scrubland
                      tucked in the middle of the city. The surrounding neighborhoods are
                      primarily Spanish-speaking, as are many of the visitors to the park. If
                      we don't already have a copy of this Spanish bird guide, I plan to
                      request we order one!

                      Thanks,
                      Jennifer Jones
                      jjones@...
                      Los Angeles


                      Quoting Brooke McDonald <BMcDonald@...>:

                      > Kaufman's got his "Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America" guide
                      > out in Spanish. In Spanish it's "Kaufman guia de campo a las aves de
                      > norteamerica."
                      >
                    • Chet Ogan
                      Hi All! That s 5,025,132 birdwatchers in California! While a small percent of our 35,893,800 population (estimate by the census bureau), over 5 million
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jun 6, 2005
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                        Hi All!

                        That's 5,025,132 birdwatchers in California! While a small percent of our
                        35,893,800 population (estimate by the census bureau), over 5 million
                        birdwatchers is a large number.

                        Redwood Region Audubon is printing our NW Calif checklist in Spanish and
                        plan to lead one field trip each month in Spanish. Others may think about
                        the outreach also.



                        Chet Ogan

                        Work: cogan@... 707-825-2952
                        Home: chet_ogan@... 707-442-9353
                        Cell:
                        707-496-9001
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