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

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  • 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 1 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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    • 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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