Notes on weather, birding economics

The weather plays a part in the numbers of birds found.

No matter when or where, statistics show birding is one of the most popular forms of nature-based tourism.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 71.8 million Americans enjoy wildlife watching, and 46.7 million people self-identify as birders.

Wildlife watchers spend about $55 billion annually, and birding accounts nationally for nearly $36 billion. That number doesn’t include estimates on related industries, which increases the total to $82 billion in overall economic impact.

In Ohio, there are an estimated 3.2 million wildlife-watchers, and birders make up about 1.6 million of the total. Statewide, wildlife watchers spend nearly $750 million annually in the state.

An estimated 120,000 out-of-state-birders visit Ohio each year.

A recent study by Bowling Green State University researchers targeted five Lake Erie birding hotspots,

all of which are part of the trail on the website go.osu.edu/birding). They found birders contribute more than $26 million to local economies by buying lodging, gasoline and food, among other travel expenses.

According to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory website, strong southerly winds are best for finding large numbers of birds in spring.

“The southern shore of Lake Erie is known for producing spectacular ‘fallouts’ of spring songbird migrants,” the website says. “Such days are unforgettable, as lakeside patches of woodland can be filled with hundreds or thousands of vireos, warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, flycatchers and others.”

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