Environmental Sporting: Birding at Superfund Sites, Landfills, and Sewage Ponds

Spencer Schaffner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes birding as an example of what I call environmental sporting, an ostensibly green category of sport that relies on both environmental protection and degradation. Three competitive forms of birding are explored in relation to three toxic sites: the birding event called the World Series of Birding and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund sites, big-year birding and landfills, and the competitive practice of listing and sewage ponds. At each site and in each competitive instantiation of birding, birders seek birds in close proximity with potent environmental toxins. The presence of active birds and birders at such sites works to make toxicity seem both hospitable and harmless. By discussing how birding relies on and ultimately masks the perils of toxic sites, the article suggests contradictions that arise from the relationship between sport and environmentalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-229
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Birding
  • Birdwatching
  • Environment
  • Pollution
  • Sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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