Knowledge may help fine-tune conservation messages
Date: April 15, 2019
Source: Cornell University
Cross-referencing a decade of Google searches and citizen science observations, researchers have determined which of 621 North American bird species are currently the most popular and which characteristics of species drive human interest. Study findings have just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Google Trends data describe how often people search for birds and provide a snapshot of public interest in different species," says researcher Justin Schuetz, Cornell alum and lead author of the study. "In general, large birds, such as hawks and grouse drew more attention than small birds. People also expressed more interest in birds that visit feeders, are endangered, or have been chosen as sports team mascots. In addition, we found that owls -- more than any other group of birds -- were the subject of public curiosity."
Surmising that people would probably search more often for birds they encountered frequently, the authors turned to eBird for the geographical piece of the puzzle. eBird is a global citizen science database of bird observations managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.