May 18, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 17 May 2012 09:08
Birds are big bucks. At least, that’s what folks in neighboring New York are saying.
A dispatch came in this week from Audubon New York, which is launching a campaign “to highlight the economic potential of bird watching to businesses and local governments.”
Citing data from the Fish and Wildlife Service, Audubon New York maintains that bird watching is the fastest-growing outdoor recreation in New York and across the country, with an estimated 3.8 million bird watchers in New York who generate $1.6 billion in ecotourism revenue a year.
“Even though this economic impact is happening, we have found that many local businesses and tourism agencies are not aware that people are traveling to, and spending money in, their communities just to watch birds, and are not actively working to promote and enhance those opportunities,” said Sean Mahar, director of Government Relations for Audubon New York.
“This is happening at a time when, in this economic downturn, more people are traveling locally and looking for opportunities to recreate closer to home.”
So Audubon New York has undertaken its “Birds Mean Business” campaign, aimed at showing businesses and towns how bird watchers are “bringing in the bucks” locally. The organization is offering ideas and promotional assistance on how state and local governments may capitalize on this growing source of revenue.
For instance, with the help of Toyota, the group has come up with “calling cards” that businesses and chambers of commerce have been asked to distribute. They highlight the economic impact of ecotourism locally, and promote the fact that many people are traveling throughout the state to watch. While promoting capitalizing on bird watching, the campaign also promotes open space protection and importance of the environmental protection funds in communities.
“Local governments can take many steps to attract bird watchers to their communities during all seasons,” added Mr. Mahar. “From simply putting information on web sites about the bird-watching opportunities in local parks and open spaces, to organizing and sponsoring bird-themed festivals and events, municipalities and businesses alike will be surprised by the response of this unique demographic, and the amount of revenue they can generate.”
For more information on the Birds Mean Business campaign and to see cards visit: ny.audubon.org/ecotourism,
A great example of a promotable destination for birders is Bennett’s Pond State Park in Ridgefield, a great place to see birds large and small. As if to prove that, Allan Welby of Ridgefield sent along the accompanying shot of a Chestnut-sided Warbler singing away, and also photographed a Common Yellowthroat there, both on May 23. Last month, Bill Rossiter of Redding spotted a Bald Eagle over the Bennett’s Pond. Wonder if it’s still around and possibly nesting?
Backyards are still a great place for bird watching, of course. Nancy Gany of Little Brook Road, Wilton, reports, “You can imagine the delight and amazement that I and my two sons, Jackson (age 15) and Liam (age 12) experienced when we saw two owls on our property a couple of weeks ago. It was about 5 p.m. on a sunny afternoon and we have not seen them since (although we’ve heard their hooting). We think they are Barred Owls. They seemed fine with us watching them and taking pictures — they hung out for quite a while before flying off. We were thrilled.”
Dawn Socci of Redding also has a Barred Owl in the neighborhood that doesn’t mind being photographed.
Jacquie Littlejohn of Weston is “totally thrilled that ‘my’ Baltimore Orioles are back. And not just one pair, but two! I would have thought they’d be more territorial but I’ve been watching them for days and all four of them are still right here, gathering nesting materials and apparently quite harmonious. Equally exciting is the pair of Wood Thrush nesting nearby. Oh, how I love to hear them.”
Birding Classes: Wood Warblers and other Neotropical Migrants, Saturday, May 19, Birds in their Habitats, Saturday, May 26, 9:30 to noon, $15/adult — kids free, Audubon Greenwich parking area at 613 Riversville Road, 203-869-5272 x230, greenwich.audubon.org
Spring Migration Bird Walk with Michelle Eckman Saturday, May 19, 9 to11 a.m. Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield, 2325 Burr Street, Fairfield, ctaudubon.org. 203-259-6305.
Spring Migration Bird Walk, Tuesday, May 22, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., North County Trailway; Bedford Audubon, www.bedfordaudubon.org, 914- 232-1999.
Copyright 2012 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] gmail.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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