The Future of Birding and Conservation: Predictions and Wishful Thinking

Predicting the future is sorta like picking football results. The longer into the future your prediction, the higher the probability you will be wrong. So, what is in the years ahead for birders? As we get more fast-paced and high-tech, we think birders will become more advanced as they make a push to slow down and enjoy the birds they have helped conserve.

It’s the Year 2020…

Dakota HDR


The birding community will continue to grow and be better connected. New web applications and better mobile networks will provide every birder the opportunity to know where the “hot” birds are and what big issues need birder involvement. Web applications will get better as well, providing multimedia like never before. Bird bloggers will rejoice and begin referring to themselves as micro-producers. {Meaning these birder-bloggers will individually provide bits of information, sightings, observations, photos, video, etc. on a small scale that will total something much greater than anyone ever thought possible.}

On the contrary, there will be a push for birders to return to the “old days” and challenge themselves by birding “naked”, that is, sans high tech. Or at least with less gear. New gadgets will hit the market, smaller and less obtrusive than ever. Birders enjoy all this great technology, but will challenge themselves not to use it.

Will there be an artificial-intelligence-computerized bird-identification-device that can determine there are seven House Sparrows, two Black-capped Chickadees, and that football we lost over the winter in that bush yonder? We think not. Birding will always require real field skills that can only be learned by doing.

We foresee a massive increase in young birders as more kids understand that birding isn’t geeky and that it has more action than any video game. Programs to get children outside will force them to check out their environment in wonder. Bird clubs geared towards these energetic knowledge-sponges will spring up in every state, making it easier for young birders to connect. With birding comes a fresh thirst for photography, optical usage and videography that ends in tomorrow’s Kaufmans, Sibleys and Petersons.


Conservationists that believe you can conserve land without alienating large groups of people will prevail. Partnerships with large tracts of land (farmers, hunters, ranchers, etc.) will be more crucial than ever.

County preserves will be an even bigger key in connecting Federal and private lands to help the “defragmentation” of the land. Local communities will demand more land be set aside to be used for recreation as well as for wildlife.

Organizations like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, American Bird Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and National Audubon Society will become marketing masters. Their ability to better connect their members will drive new ideas and move the community to do great things.

Citizen Science will increase incredibly as, with new web and mobile technologies as stated above, more birders, educators, and students are moved to make their sightings and efforts more worthwhile.

As a result of more citizen scientists, more birders, and better ways of communicating and spreading data, the knowledge base of bird behaviors, migration routes, nesting habits, etc. will dramatically improve. This improvement will bring about better ways to conserve bird habitat and understand what birds need help most and where.

What do you see happening in the birding and conservation world in the next ten years? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll see just how close our predictions are.

3 thoughts on “The Future of Birding and Conservation: Predictions and Wishful Thinking

  1. I must admit, my outlook is considerably less positive & much more cynical, unfortunately. I’ve been thinking, recently, about how so much of our functioning “economy” contributes to the endangerment & eradication of other species. For example, roads that aren’t paved & wooded lots that aren’t cleared are considered “unimproved.” If I wanted to claim squatter’s rights on the property adjacent to mine, I’d have to “improve & maintain” the land (clear the trees & underbrush & keep them cleared,) for X number of years. When new houses come into our neighborhood, 1/2 acre chunks of forest are razed & all of that wood is just burned. Not used for something productive, just piled up & burned. Same story when they put in a new strip mall, except that the parcel of land is considerably larger.
    Here in the West, it seems like a “functioning” economy hinges upon the eradication of all things natural. I just finished reading an article that explained how the US’s search for “cleaner” fuels is directly threatening the already endangered Sumatran elephant (among other things.)
    I wish I could be hopeful, but I know what people are like. Nothing drives human beings like insecurity (the true root of all evil.) When nature & money go head to head, generally speaking, money will ALWAYS win (at least in the long run, if not so immediately.)
    But I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Through the concerted efforts of recognized leaders of the birding community, along with the grassroots efforts of bloggers, twitterers, bird clubs, birdfeeding hobby stores, as well as serious birders and casual birdwatchers alike, the demand for certified shade-grown coffee is finally resulting in the return of thousands of acres of factory coffee farms to traditional shade-grown methods.

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