American Birding Podcast



Blog Birding #412

Birders know about the importance of National Wildlife Refuges to protect important habitat and provide important opportunities for birders to enjoy their hobby, but as Jason Crotty of 10,000 Birds points out, they’re also important drivers of local jobs.

Non-consumptive uses — such as birding — accounted for the overwhelming majority of economic benefits. About 86 percent of total recreation-related expenditures are generated by non-consumptive activities. In contrast, consumptive uses were minor:  fishing accounted for 10 percent and hunting was just 4 percent.

Traveling visitors that traveled to refuges accounted for the vast majority of spending.  On average, travelers (i.e., those from more than 50 miles away) accounted for 83 percent of expenditures while local visitors accounted for just 17 percent. This makes sense: residents do not need hotels and eat at restaurants less often than travelers.

Want to get into birding, or–more likely if you’re reading this blog–want to get someone else into birding? Clifton Mark at CBC Life has some tips.

Part of the reason that birding (the term “birdwatching” is felt to be a bit belittling in the community) is so widespread is that it appeals to so many different passions. It can be a treasure hunt for exotic species, an excuse for a stroll, an opportunity for photography, or a chance to contribute to science and conservation. Different birders have different motivations. But for many, it’s more than a “pastime”, it’s a way of seeing the world.

Male and Female American Kestrels seek out different types of habitats in the winter, an unusual characteristic that we still don’t entirely understand. Kenn Kaufman explains at Audubon

Birders soon learn to tell the sexes of kestrels apart, even at highway speeds. Females are slightly larger than males (as with most birds of prey), but more obvious are color differences: females have reddish brown wings and tail with many black bars, while on males the tail is mostly unmarked reddish brown and the wings are blue-gray. This is true even on the youngest birds, as soon as their feathers start developing in the nest.

Since the signing of the peace agreement in between the government and rebels in Colombia, the nation has been able to tackle illicit bird trafficking in a way they never had been able to do before. More at

Taking advantage of a decline in violence, and spurred by a growing awareness of Colombia’s importance as the country with the second highest biodiversity in the world, authorities are going after animal trafficking like never before. Last year, police seized more than 34,600 animals illegally poached from the wild—a 44% increase over 2017. Many were detected by a pack of 16 feather- and skin-sniffing dogs stationed at airports and bus stations.

The recent weakening of the Endangered Species Act threatens the recovery of many endangered North American species. Learn exactly what this means at Birdwatching Daily. 

“These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end. We’ll fight the Trump administration in court to block this rewrite, which only serves the oil industry and other polluters who see endangered species as pesky inconveniences.”