Birding Tidbits

1. About 20 percent of the U.S. population are birders, according to a national survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s 48 million Americans who try to identify birds in their backyard or while on trips.

2. For facts and tips about backyard birding and a good online bird guide that includes bird calls, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website,

3. For birding tours in the United States, two popular companies are: Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, and Wings Birding Tours,

4. Some of the rarest birds in the U.S., such as the California condor, the whooping crane, the Kirtland’s warbler and the Island Scrub Jay, are fairly easy to find. The holy grail of birds — the rarest of the rare ­— would be spotting an ivory-billed woodpecker, a Bachman’s warbler (hasn’t been seen in 25 years and may be extinct) or an Eskimo curlew (has rarely been seen since 1890  and there is no confirmed last sighting). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says it is almost certainly extinct, but … you never know.

5. Birders may be passionate, but their watching is done outdoors, not inside. Despite the presence of Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin in the 2011 birding movie The Big Year, box-office receipts were only $7.2 million. According to, the movie had a $41 million budget.