What is the Difference between a Birder and a Bird Hunter?

Last Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio, host Billy
Hildebrand and I interviewed one of our favorite guests, naturalist
Stan Tekiela. The topic of the morning was bird watching.

Did you know that according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service study published in 2001 that one in five Americans are
considered birders, or bird watchers? That ratio represents 46
million people! Compare that with the fact there are 2 million
pheasant hunters and 1 million quail hunters in the U.S. Quite the

Stan described a birder as a person that likes to be outside, is
passionate about wildlife, is a conservationist and cares about the
environment. As Stan talked about bird watching and the people that
consider themselves birders, I couldn’t help but notice the
similarities in profiles to Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever
members. The primary differences between the two groups are a
birder collects his/her quarry with a list or a camera, while a
bird hunter bags the targeted species with a shotgun, and both
thinks the other is a little bit crazy.

Stan also brought up the fact that birders have been major
beneficiaries of the hunting community’s financial contributions
for decades. It has always been hunters who have contributed to
wildlife habitat through license sales, excise taxes, and projects
funded by conservation groups like Pheasants Forever & Quail
Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. Imagine if
we could figure out a way to get 46 million birders to make even a
fraction of the contribution that hunters do!

I’ve been thinking about the comparison between bird hunters and
birders all week. As an admitted bird hunting addict and
non-birder, I wonder if birders are subconsciously acting out the
human instinct to be hunter-gatherers. Birders complete the entire
ritual of a hunt, but ultimately “capture” in a photo album or on a
list rather than in the frying pan. Although I’m certainly biased
toward bird hunters, I believe a better understanding of each other
would broaden hunters’ views while deepening the birders’ respect
of us.

What do you think is the difference between a bird hunter and a
bird watcher?

Categories: Bob St. Pierre

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