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Graduate Defense: Bekki Waskovich

March 1 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Thesis Defense

Thesis Information

Title: Patterns Of Non-Consumptive Public Land Users: How Do Birders Value Species And Make Foraging Decisions

Program: Master of Arts in Anthropology

Advisor: Dr. Kathryn Demps, Anthropology

Committee Members: Dr. John Ziker, Anthropology and Dr. Kelly Hopping, College of Innovation and Design


Non-consumptive wildlife-associated recreation has grown by over 1000% since 1970. While the number of consumptive users has remained largely unchanged. Behavioral ecology and foraging theory can help to explain birder behavior to ascertain recreationists’ values and motives while on the landscape. During the Christmas Bird Counts of December 2022, 68 participants from the Boise, Bruneau, and Nampa, Idaho counts were surveyed. A subset of those participants (29) volunteered to be interviewed further. Biodiversity and native species were found to be a top value for birders with 127 unique species appearing in the top ranked species by participants. Invasives and common birds were the least valued and only 31 unique species appeared in the bottom rankings. The rarity of the species, the thrill of identifying a new species, or adding to their list was indicated as important by 55% of participants. Transmission of knowledge, particularly the use of apps such as eBird was indicated in several results: equipment usage (93%), species identification (79%), and where to bird (45%). The use of social cues and successful trips, highlights the usage of both patch and prey modeling behavior for birders, whether they are seeking a biodiverse patch or a specific species these values are transmitted through the foraging reporting of others. Studies have long focused avitourism and destination birding, however this study provides a pilot into bridging a gap in the behavior and values of birders in their local areas to potential management actions or conservation involvement.