PhD study of birding couples

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: PhD study of birding couples
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2016 18:40:05 +0000
Good morning all

I have just submitted my PhD and thought that some on Birding Aus might be 
interested in my findings.  I researched American couples who travel 
internationally with birdwatching being part or all of the reason for their 
travel.   Couples may constitute a large sector of the wildlife/ecotourism 
market (over half according to some papers). However, there is limited research 
 - my study appears to be the first.

I found there were differences in the way that male and female participants 
watched birds, for example in listing behaviour.  More male participants listed 
and as well had longer lists.  From memory I think that all those with bird 
lists from 6,000 upwards (the longest list was over 8000), were male.

Fewer participants belonged to the American Birding Association than the 
Audubon Society or chapters, and most preferred to travel independently of 
organised tours.  One explanation for both these findings might be that female 
participants in particular were less interested in activities or trips that 
focused solely on birding, particularly where it was intensive.  And because 
most participants (particularly men)  reported that they preferred to watch 
birds with their spouse they might eschew such activities and trips in favour 
of those that they both enjoy.  One activity that some couples really enjoyed 
was the keeping of a joint bird list; they reported that a bird that only one 
had recorded was a ‘half-bird’, until both had seen it.

More female participants were motivated to watch birds by a wish to feel a 
connection to nature (although most male participants prioritised this 
motivation as well).  They also wanted some different qualities in a guide.  
For example more female participants than male were interested in a guide with 
scientific knowledge, who related to wildlife, had knowledge of other fauna, 
and who shared their knowledge.

While I didn’t ask questions about sexism, female participants reported 
behaviour they considered inappropriate or discriminatory  by either guides or 
other birders in a group.  Yet these complainants also expressed concern that 
their criticisms might reach the ears of those they complained about.

Overall this study found that a committed relationship is more central to 
lifestyle than birding and therefore had the potential to alter couples' 
leisure and travel behaviour.  It also demonstrates that a committed 
relationship can be an arena where different modes of knowledge connect.

Denise Lawungkurr  Goodfellow
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835

PhD candidate, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Founding Member: Ecotourism Australia
Nominated by Earthfoot for Condé Nast’s International  Ecotourism Award, 2004.

With every introduction of a plant or animal that goes feral this continent 
becomes a little less unique, a little less Australian.

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