Birding by Ear: A Study of Recreational Specialization and Soundscape Preference

Zachary D. Miller, Jeffrey C. Hallo, Julia L. Sharp, Robert B. Powell, J. Drew Lanham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Soundscapes have become recognized as an important natural resource. The traditional human-made versus natural soundscape comparison currently used in recreational resource management is challenged by borrowing soundscape components (i.e., biophony, anthrophony, geophony) from soundscape ecology. This article evaluated the soundscape preference of birders. A three-component model of recreational specialization was used to evaluate how recreationists differ in their preference for soundscape components. Data from in-person surveys collected at The Audubon Center and Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest in Harleyville, South Carolina were used in combination with surveys from online birding list servers to obtain a sample of 415 individuals with varying levels of specialization. The findings suggest soundscape preference exists as biophony, geophony, and anthrophony and that more specialized birders found geophony to be significantly more annoying than less specialized birders. Additionally, the skill and knowledge component of specialization best explained the difference in geophony preference among birders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-511
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Dimensions of Wildlife
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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