Percentage of birders in Australia

To: Sean Dooley <>
Subject: Percentage of birders in Australia
From: Trevor Hampel <>
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 11:21:25 +1030

Sean Dooley wrote:

But then again, my 1999 edition of Pizzey and Knight states on the cover
that 40,000 copies had been sold. So unless people bought multiple copies or
30,000 visiting overseas birders bought it, the actual figure may be higher
than my 10,000 estimate.

Hi Sean and other dedicated birders,

Quoting sales figures of popular field guides and bird books gives a truer indication of the broader interest in birds than just membership of clubs and organisations. I suspect that the interest in the beauty and sometimes the unusual behaviour of birds in parks and gardens is far bigger than we think. For everyone who purchases a bird book, there would have to be another nine who are "bird lovers" or "bird observers" who would not identify with the term "birder" or belong to any club and not even buy a book about birds.

Sean's comments made me do a quick summary of my friends, acquaintances and family and I had no trouble coming up with thirty names of people I know who observe birds from time to time. They all know I am a birder and will comment to me on birds they have seen, or bird behaviour they have observed. I often get emails or phone calls asking for help with identification.

So for every person who identifies with the title "Birder" or "Bird-watcher" there could well be 30-40 people who occasionally observe birds in their daily lives, especially in gardens but who would not call themselves a birder as such. These people rarely keep any formal records of their observations.

Here is a huge, untapped potential membership for our birding organisations. I suspect that the membership fees are too prohibitive for those on the fringe. It could be as simple as not being a priority.

From my own experience in blogging about Australian birds (see link below) over the last 18 months I would estimate that about 90 per cent of people commenting on my articles would not call themselves birders, but who are interested in birds ie they are "bird lovers". Then you have another group who are looking for information or help because they have had a close encounter with birds in their garden.

In summary then, I suspect that the true number of Australians who identify themselves as "birders" would be somewhere between ten and twenty thousand but the number of people who are aware of our birds and take a casual interest in them could well exceed 200,000. This is an untapped resource for programmes such as the Atlas and Birds in Backyards.

Trevor Hampel
Murray Bridge
South Australia

Check out my BLOGS (web logs):

Trevor's Birding - observations and photos of birds at

Trevor's Travels - travels in Australia, Thailand and Nepal at

Trevor's Writing - read some of my writing at

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