Of all the wildlife in the United States, birds attracted the biggest following. Approximately 45.1 million people observed birds around the home and on trips in 2016. A large majority, 86 percent (38.7 million), observed wild birds around the home, while 36 percent (16.3 million) took trips away from home to observe wild birds. Participants averaged a startling 96 days of birding in 2016, primarily due to the 105 days of around-the-home birders. Away-from-home birders averaged 16 days.
These wildlife watchers purchased $55.1 billion worth of equipment for wildlife watching. They spent $12.1 billion (22 percent of all equipment expenditures) on wildlife-watching equipment including binoculars, cameras, bird food, and special clothing. Expenditures for auxiliary equipment, such as tents and backpacking equipment,totaled $1.0 billion (2 percent) for the year. Participants spent $41.9 billion (76 percent) on special equipment, including off-road vehicles, campers,and boats.
In 2016, around-the-home wildlife participants 16 years and older numbered 81.1 million — 94 percent of all wildlife watching hobbyist. The most popular activity, feeding birds and other wildlife, accounted for 59.1 million wildlife watchers, 73 percent of all around-the-home participants. Over 43.8 million people observed wildlife, representing 54 percent of all around the-home participants. Approximately 30.5 million (38 percent of all around-the-home wildlife watchers) photographed wildlife.