- The purpose of this study was to examine participation patterns of two different segments of the wildlife watching population: casual wildlife watchers and serious birders. We used Texas Conservation Passport holders and members of the American Birding Association to represent the views of these two groups of wildlife watchers. Consistent with the recreation specialization framework, these two groups were defined in terms of their skill at identifying birds, frequency of participation, yearly expenditures, and birdwatching behaviors close to home. Further analysis revealed many significant differences in participation characteristics between casual wildlife watchers and serious birders. Specifically, there were differences in the types of information sources used for trip planning and differences in desired setting preferences. The implication of this study is that managers and planners will be able to more effectively target casual wildlife watchers and/or serious birders with the appropriate promotional strategy and provide the desired products and services. 1999 Taylor & Francis.