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Birding Trails Could Help Local Economies


This is for the birds, and it’s worth a lot of money for local communities. How many of you live in areas that may offer  eco-tours? What do these tours normally want to show you? The local flora and fauna,
                                     Limpkin eating Apple Snail

of course, and birds are attracting more people - birding is a big industry - even if the local topography is not that beautiful. For example, north central Nebraska is not known as a tourist mecca, yet it attracts more than 80,000 people in a two month period each year to see the sandhill cranes that migrate there. They spend over $80 million in that area. That ain’t hay, either.

Florida is known for its birds in the Everglades, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Merrit Island Wildlife Preserves, our National Forests, and along our extensive shores. Common Egret And birding occurs all year long in many cases. We are second in the nation in nonconsumptive bird related activities. (That means we don’t kill and eat them)... Guess what these birders "flock" to?

   Common Egret on Takeoff

Hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, and restaurants. Include the clothing and binoculars, books, cameras, film, anything related to outdoor travel, and you get the idea of what people looking at a few birds can do for your economy.
Texas made new road maps to promote bird routes. Done in full color with birds painted on them, these ecotourism maps show viewing areas, bird routes, best viewing times, and species. One can walk, ride a bike, go by horseback or car to view birds.

Florida has started planning a 2000 mile birding trail. The first guide is called the Great Florida Birding Trail, east section, and is produced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, also with the Florida Park Service, Florida Dept . of Transportation, the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The guide is divided into clusters (sections). Marion County has two sites listed under the upland songbird section - the Silver River State Park, and Oklawaha Prairie restorational area.

Hawk Paynes Prairie is included in Alachua county. Brevard County has 27 different birding sites, including Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Kenedy Space Center, where many shorebirds - egrets, herons, pelicans, roseate spoonbills, gulls, wood storks congregate.
Nominations are being taken for future Florida sites. Imagine what a site near your hometown could do for caring

        Redtailed hawk

about and preserving the environment and for businesses in the area. So, the next time you are feeding your wild birds in your backyard, look around your area and ask yourself  -"Can my hometown or local area be listed as a birding site?" Those tourist dollars may mean the difference between a pristine wilderness area being preserved for all generations, or being destroyed by development because no one cares.

Southern Bald EagleThe guides are free, go online and download the guide at or write :Great Florida Birding Trail, 620 S. Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL, 32399-1600.
If you think your area might qualify to be in the guide, contact them! For those people in other  states, contact your Wildlife Service, Park Service, Fish and Game, and get a guide started. Your local Audubon Society may also be of

     Southern Bald Eagle

some help in identifying prime birding areas, and getting the word out to those that can make this happen.
May you see the eagle soar....

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