Birdwatching is among America’s most popular recreational activities…and growing.
Why Birding? Ask the 47+ million birdwatchers in America why they love birds, and you’ll likely get a range of replies as diverse as the birds themselves.
With colors and songs that can stop you in your tracks (just about anywhere), equally colorful and evocative names, and life stories replete with amazing feats of speed and stamina, not to mention the power of flight, birds are an exciting gateway to the natural world, right outside your door.
A new economic impact analysis suggests that Arizonans now have a billion more reasons to appreciate birds and wildlife, according to a Tucson Audubon news release.
Arizona’s unique combination of geography and climate supports a whopping 400+ bird species—that’s about half the total of all the bird species that can be found in the U.S. and Canada, in just 1 percent of the land area. Diverse and distinctive, Arizona’s birdlife features many species found nowhere else this side of the border, virtually guaranteeing a slot on many a birders’ bucket list.
Combine this with a cultural heritage, ample RV Parks and campgrounds, first-class destination services, and a plethora of unique wildlife experiences accessible from Tucson, and it’s no wonder the area is recognized as one of the top birding and nature destinations on the continent attracting ecotourists from all over the world.
Birders Mean Business
BIG business! You might be surprised to learn that Watchable Wildlife recreation in Arizona has a larger economic impact than hunting, fishing, golf, or even the Gem Show.
Southwick Associates, a fish and wildlife economics and statistics firm, reports the total economic effect from 2011 watchable wildlife activities in Arizona to be $1.4 billion ($1.1 billion by residents and $314.6 million by visitors).
Southwick’s analysis is based on raw data from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. In this survey, “wildlife watching activities” include observing, photographing, or feeding wildlife.
When birders and other wildlife watchers visit, they spend money—mostly on lodging, food, and transportation. Local participants contribute, too, with equipment purchases like optics, camera gear, birdfeeding supplies, and other tools of the trade.
These expenditures have increased since 2001, despite economic instability; in 2011, Arizona residents spent a total of $665 million on watchable wildlife recreation, while visiting wildlife watchers from out-of-state poured $183.7 million new dollars into the state economy.
Original expenditures by wildlife watchers generate rounds of additional spending throughout the economy, resulting in additional indirect and induced impacts that are commonly called the multiplier effect. Economic activity associated with both the direct spending and multiplier effects impacts is the total economic contribution resulting from the original expenditures.
Locally, watchable wildlife recreation has a total economic impact of $330 million, and supports about 3000 jobs in Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise counties.
Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival
Explore and enjoy the beautiful and fascinating Sonoran Desert and Sky Islands at the third annual Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival, August 14-18, 2013.
Workshops include Beginning Birding, Learning To Use a Field Guide, Fall Migrants, and Hummingbird ID.
Tucson Audubon promotes the protection and stewardship of southern Arizona’s biological diversity through the study and enjoyment of birds and the places they live.
Tucson Audubon connects people to their natural environment. Focusing on birds and other wildlife, they inspire and motivate people to conserve natural resources in southern Arizona for use and enjoyment by all.
Tucson Audubon is a full-service community conservation organization bringing together people with a common interest in birding and the natural world.
Address: 300 E University Blvd, #120, Tucson, AZ 85705
Phone: (520) 629-0510
I love this region and its birdlife…I love the varied seasons of this country… especially that green time in August when the thunderstorms roll through and when birds are abundant everywhere from the grasslands to the high peaks.”
—Kenn Kaufman, keynote speaker, 2011 Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival