The discussions to date re drumming up interest
in birding will always be a topic of debate and little will change from the
In Australia, birding is seen as a leisure
pursuit or a hobby to be taken up in maturing years - hence we will always have
a predominance of retired or semi-retired enthusiasts. There are too many other
pursuits in this country to attract young people and birding is not one of them.
I read of the same concerns in aviculture magazines. Both are not hobbies that
have the excitement value that young people seek and it isn't until later years
that one appreciates the gentler pursuits of life.
I lived in Cairns until this year and it was always
interesting to see the different nationalities of birders coming through there
and their relative ages.
A very sweeping observation over the years indicated to me
that the age and enthusiasm of birdwatchers varied dramatically
Scandinavian and Israeli birders being very youthful and full
on fanatics with huge knowledge not only of the birds but of the area and
country generally. One Israeli commented that he was surprised to find so few
young birders in Australia and so many older ones. His comment about Israel was
that the majority of birders are young and that there are very few mature
birders in his country.
The Brits are a mixture of age groups unlike
The Americans, Japanese and Europeans generally are similar in
make-up to us.
The other frustration about non-active participants in bird
groups is also a common phenomena in all clubs. Of the members, about 60 to 70%
will attend meetings from time to time. Less than 50% will go on day outings,
less than 25% will go on weekend camping trips and less than 10% will take an
active and continuing interest in volunteering for activities associated with
the club or issues associated with the club. In reality, the figures are
probably much less. That is reality and should be accepted as normal for any
The social aspect of clubs is often the very thing that
prevents them attracting younger members who want to have full-on birding and
not the genteel type of group activities that are a necessary part of clubs
generally. All clubs have members who want to belong to a birding organisation
but don't want to involved in the associated activities - preferring to go out
by themselves or with one or two like minded friends whenever the mood takes
"Thems" my thoughts on the present