In the current era of our faltering pandemic-ravaged economy, one industry is thriving. Backyard bird feeding and watching is booming. During the second quarter of 2020 the national economy shrank an all-time record 9.5%. The backyard bird feeding sector expanded by a reported 50-80%.
The most recent data for backyard birding from 2018 showed that $4 billion was spent nationally on bird feeding and watching. This includes $3.8 billion on bird seed alone. Recent surveys of bird seed stores nationally reflect a 50-80% increase in sales of bird-related seed, feeders and accessories. People who have been longtime feeders of birds are filling their feeders more frequently while newcomers, realizing the joy and tranquility of watching and feeding birds, are investing in feeders, the seed to fill them and binoculars and field guides to watch the feeder activity.
Socially distant, homebound Americans are noticing the influx of birds in their own yards. A regionally moderate winter helped more birds survive. Drought conditions in many areas helped drive birds to home feeders and watering stations. This further helped more birds survive and thrive in the the 2020 spring migration and summer. Bird seed companies have been designated as essential industries, allowing them to continue through the pandemic. The increase in seed demand has put some pressure on the seed companies and also the feeder manufacturers, but that demand has largely been met. Bird stores in many areas have remained open and offered touchless sale and delivery of seeds to respond to the demand for seed.
Locally here in Omaha, two of my favorite bird stores, For the Birds at 84th and Fredrick, and Wild Birds Unlimited in Rockbrook Village, have remained open and able to respond to the demands of increased feeding and the many new people who are just discovering the joys of bird feeding. Please remember those who help us continue to enjoy bird feeding in the time of home confinement and social distancing. There is no better activity for this time of solitude.