About six weeks ago my fifth biennial reader survey appeared, and I've received and compiled 1,402 completed forms from 10 states. I realize this is not a random, scientific poll of the general public, but it does reflect the views of those who read this column. Here are the results, listed as percentages, along with a few comments. Even if you didn't participate in the survey, it's a great chance to compare notes.
1. Of the following backyard birds, which is your favorite? Robin (4%) Chickadee (30%) Bluebird (16%) Cardinal (27%) Hummingbird (23%). .
2. Is it OK to kill house sparrows, which are unprotected and compete fiercely with bluebirds, to help nesting bluebirds? Yes (38%) No (62%) .
Major problem: (This is why wildlife management and conservation should be left to the professionals. House sparrows are the major problem bluebirds face, yet many people voted simply with their hearts. I doubt they ever held a dead bluebird in their hands.).
3. In the last year, have you traveled more than 20 miles to watch birds and/or other wildlife? Yes (52%) No (48%).
4. In the last year, have you traveled more than 200 miles to watch birds and/or other wildlife? Yes (27%) No ( 73%).
5. Do you like columns that recommend books, nature-related products, and nature-related travel destinations? Yes (93%) No (7%).
6. Have you ever paid a professional wildlife damage control specialist to remove nuisance wildlife from your house or property? Yes (7%) No (93%).
7. Have you sprayed insecticides inside your home in the last 12 months? .
Yes (29%) No (71%) .
(This question led to a solution to the spring and fall & quot;ladybug & quot; problem -- use an electronic bug zapper indoors.).
8. What's the most you've ever paid for a bird feeder? .
$20 (39%) $35 (29%) $50 (17%) $75 (9%) $100 or more (4%).
(2% indicated they make their own feeders.).
9. Do you buy any premium foods such as nuts, nyjer, sunflower kernels, or mealworms to feed backyard birds. Yes (79%) No (21%).
10. How many backyard birds can you identify by sight? .
None (less than 1%) 1 to 10 (29%) 11 to 20 (37%) More than 20 (33%).
11. How many backyard birds can you identify by sound? .
None (8%) 1 to 10 (70%) 11 to 20 (15%) More than 20 (7%).
12. Do you feed birds all year long? Yes (75%) No (25%).
13. Do you trust your state wildlife management agency? Yes (67%) No (33%).
Good idea? 14. Do you think it's a good idea to reintroduce wildlife such as wolves, grizzly bears, whooping cranes, and red-cockaded woodpeckers to areas where they once thrived, but are now absent? Yes (79%) No (21%).
15. Do you think everyone, not just hunters, should help pay for wildlife management and conservation? Yes (85%) No (15%).
16. Would you support allocating a small portion of your state's general fund (one half of one percent of a state sales tax, for example) to conservation and wildlife management? .
Yes (92%) No (8%) .
(In 1976 Missouri passed an amendment to its state constitution allotting one-eighth of one percent of the state sales tax to the Department of Conservation. Last year that generated more than $86 million, and that's on top of license sales and funds from federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear.).
17. Should President Bush open Alaska's pristine and unspoiled Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration and drilling? Yes (22%) No (78%).
18. Do you favor selling off federally owned public lands (such as grasslands for grazing, mountains for mining, forests for timber, coastal areas for oil drilling) to private business and industry? Yes (7%) No (93%) .
NO!!!! (Many readers answered numbers 17 and 18 with big bold letters and exclamation points: NO!!!!).
19. Gender/Age: 58% female; 42% male. .
Ages ranged from 9 to 94. 43% were 41 to 60; 51% were over 60. .
(Younger families are just too busy with school and extracurricular activities to think about conservation. But when the kids leave home, wildlife watching becomes a stimulating, entertaining, and inexpensive backyard activity.)
UCatch Scott's radio show on the Internet at www.1360wptt.com every Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.