The Business of Birds

When we think about birds, it’s usually about plumage, songs, and feats of flying. Yet just below the poetic surface lies an important truth about birds: They’re big business. Search Google on the keywords “pet bird,” and you’ll produce 2,150,000 hits, mostly commercial websites selling bird-related products, heartwarming bird videos, and bird owners’ gossip and photos.

But for a wealth of reliable, authoritative information, there is no better way to explore bird economics and social impact than by delving into the online resources available through the library’s Business Research Guide (“online resources” tab).

  • In Statistical Abstract of the United States, you’ll learn that U.S. bird ownership in 2006 clocked in at 11.2 million households, or 3.9%. The most likely bird owners? Households with income under $20,000.
  • A keyword search on “pet care” in Passport GMID unearths over 1,400 documents, including one on the growth of health and wellness products for birds and other pets.
  • Search Datamonitor360 on “Other Pet Care” AND “birds” and you’ll find a 35-page report on “Pet Care in China” (where we learn that cat care accounts for 57% of the China market--so pet birds beware!).
  • If you’re concerned about worldwide bird poaching activities, search Business Source Complete using the terms “bird* AND poach*” for a number of scholarly articles on the topic. Statistical Datasets (FFIEC folder, Forestry Statistics sub-folder, Biological Diversity sub-sub-folder) reveals that there are 248 endangered forest bird species in the Czech Republic
  • Foundation Directory Online is your go-to source for information about charitable organizations with an interest in birds. There you’ll find 8 grantmakers, 37 grants, a wild bird feed producer/seller, and 1,267 IRS 990 forms of organizations interested in bird and wildlife preservation.
  • Use American Factfinder to explore the Census Bureau’s Economic Census. A search on the NAICS industry code 311119 (Other Animal Food Manufacturing) reveals that there are 13 such manufacturing establishments in Maryland.

If we’ve whetted your appetite, you’re in luck, since these examples only scratch the surface.  What about bird breeders?  Bird veterinarians and bird burials?  Seek and ye shall find…

About Alan Zuckerman

Librarian for Business.

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