| Birding Etiquette
There are rules for this. Really. Here are a few elementary ones:
* Don't harm the birds or other wildlife.
* Don't interfere with other birders.
* Don't disturb nesting birds - spooking the parents can harm both eggs and fledglings.
* Respect fellow humans' private property
Birding has been called the most popular spectator sport in North America, which means more people watch birds than football. It's also a hobby that anyone can enjoy, from kids on up to great-grandparents. It can be done alone or in a group, in your back yard or some exotic locale. In short, it's a lot of fun.
It also generates cold, hard cash.
For the purposes of state statistics, birds fall into a category called "non-consumptive watchable wildlife." Birding also is considered nature, or eco, tourism, which is the fastest-growing segment of the tourism industry worldwide.
Birders in Florida (about 2 million of them by the state Game Commission's count) spent some $1.7 billion on their hobby in 1996, the latest year for which figures are available.
When you add up all the other watchable wildlife activities, the total statewide economic impact that year was $3.5 billion. Those activities also provided more than 51,000 jobs.
A few related fact facts:
* Birding is a worldwide activity, and Florida is the number one U.S. destination for international travelers.
* About half of the 42 million tourists who visit Florida each year are seeking some sort of natural activity.
* Florida ranks second in the nation in terms of money spent for bird watching and other birding activities (excluding hunting).
* Among residents, birding is the top non-consumptive wildlife activity.