How much is that birdie in my backyard? A cross-continental economic valuation of native urban songbirds

Abstract

Human-wildlife interactions in urban areas, both positive and negative, often involve people and birds. We assess the economic value placed on interactions with common native songbirds in two different urban areas (Berlin, Germany and Seattle, Washington, USA) by combining a revealed preference (recalled expenditures on bird feed) and a stated preference approach (determining willingness to pay for conservation or reduction of birds). Residents in both cities purchase bird food, engage in a range of bird-supporting activities and are generally willing to pay a small amount for native songbird conservation. Demographic, cultural and socio-economic factors, as well as specific attitudes towards birds and general attitudes about conservation were found to influence these decisions. This study presents the first attempt at estimating the economic value of enjoying common native urban songbirds and estimates the lower bound to be about 120 million USD/year in Seattle and 70 million USD/year in Berlin.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    This kind of correction implicitly assumes that the respondent’s decision to answer “yes” to the WTP conditioning question is independent of observed covariates. We tested this assumption by estimating a binary response (logit) with a range of covariates and were not able to find significant predictors of this choice.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Kate Kourbatova, Yih En Lim, Erica Petru, and Diana Rayo for research assistance in Seattle and specially thank Helena Franke and Sonja Kübler for conducting the human surveys in Berlin. Wilfried Enlicher encouraged and supported our work in Berlin and Mark Colwell and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. This research was partially supported by a McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program grant (United States Department of Agriculture) to BC, SR and JMM and by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) to BC and JMM as part of the Urban Ecology Group (Stadtökologische Perspektiven - Optimierung urbaner Naturentwicklung) at Humboldt Universität in Berlin, Germany.

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Correspondence to Barbara Clucas.

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Clucas, B., Rabotyagov, S. & Marzluff, J.M. How much is that birdie in my backyard? A cross-continental economic valuation of native urban songbirds. Urban Ecosyst 18, 251–266 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-014-0392-x

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Keywords

  • Birds
  • Conservation
  • Human surveys
  • Urban wildlife
  • Willingness to pay