Racial, ethnic, and social patterns in the recreation specialization of birdwatchers: An analysis of United States eBird registrants

Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
By: , and 



Although birdwatchers comprise a large and growing proportion of the American public, there is a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the birdwatching community. Previous research suggests that this homogeneity is self-perpetuating, as ethno-racial minorities are less likely to pursue activities in which no one they know participates. However, it is unclear whether this trend in birdwatching participation also applies to degree of subsequent participant involvement. Using a national online survey of US birdwatchers, we measured the degree of recreation specialization among birdwatchers along affective, cognitive, and behavioral dimensions. We also determined whether respondents had social connections (acquaintances, close friends, or relatives) who birdwatch. We then used logistic regression to determine which ethno-racial groups were more likely to have birdwatcher social connections, and multiple linear regression to investigate how our measures of recreation specialization varied by ethno-racial group. As expected, the ethno-racial composition of the birdwatchers we studied was significantly less diverse than that of the American public. Of the 29,380 respondents who reported their ethno-racial group, 5.2% were Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (including Native American, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, or multiracial), while 94.8% were non-Hispanic White. However, we observed no statistically significant ethno-racial patterns in overall degree of recreation specialization, even when controlling for social connection and demographic characteristics. Considering the three dimensions of specialization individually, we found that some ethno-racial predictors were statistically significant, but coefficients were too small to be practically significant. We conclude that while some ethno-racial groups are underrepresented among birdwatchers, there is insufficient evidence that they are also under-specialized.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Racial, ethnic, and social patterns in the recreation specialization of birdwatchers: An analysis of United States eBird registrants
Series title Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
DOI 10.1016/j.jort.2021.100400
Volume 35
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown, Fort Collins Science Center
Description 100400, 12 p.
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