Posts Tagged ‘Black Birders’

For the third year, Black Birders Week is back! It is taking place this year from May 29th through June 4th.

In 2000, a birder approached a dog owner in Central Park, New York, NY to ask that the dog be put on a leash. At the outset, nothing seems odd about this, especially because the area these two people were in was an area where dogs were supposed to be on-leash. What happened next was absolutely insane, and you don’t have to take my word for it because the encounter was recorded and the video is available from several sources such as this one and this one.

What happened next is that the dog owner, who is a white woman, announces that she is going to call the police and tell them that she is being threatened by a black man. The birder was indeed a black man, but was doing nothing more threatening then asking the woman to obey the rules of Central Park. The woman then makes good on her threat, and calls the police. During the call, she becomes more and more strident as she repeatedly states that a black man is threatening both herself and her dog.

In response to this weaponization of race by a white woman against a black man, a group called Black AF in Stem came together with several black members of the birding community to launch the first Black Birders Week. After the success of that first event in 2000, the second Black Birders Week was held in 2021.

This year the theme for Black Birders Week will run from May 29th to June 4th, and the theme is “soaring to greater heights.” Each day of the week has a particular topic and accompanying hashtag: May 29 – #BlackInNature, May 30 – #InTheNest, May 31 – #LearningToTakeFlight, June 1 – #DayOfRoost, June 2 – #FlyingTheCoop, June 3 – #AsTheCrowFlies, and June 4 – #LifelongJourney. Other events such as bird walks, panel discussions, and more are also taking place. To learn more about the topics of each day and the other facets of the week check out the schedule website.

As a birder who is not black (I am a white guy), I get a great deal of value from attending the talks and other events of Black Birders Week. It gives me the chance to listen to people who have had very different experiences with birding and the great outdoors in general and to learn what they have seen and heard and the obstacles they have faced, and are continuing to face.

To all the birders who may read this who are black, I want you to know that your perspectives are valuable and there are many people who want to hear them. This is the type of event that gets richer and richer with each additional person who is willing to participate and share, and I hope that lots of black birders feel comfortable and encouraged to do so.

To all the birders who may read this who are not black (like me), I encourage all of you to attend at least some portion of Black Birders Week. Meet new people. Expand your circle of birding companions. Help make the birding community open, friendly, welcoming, and equitable!

And to absolutely everyone, I hope you enjoy #BlackBirdersWeek!

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It is Black History Month, and I have been thinking a bit about what I can do as a White scientist, birder, and naturalist, to celebrate the contributions of Black members of these communities. I want to do a small part to lift up the voices of Black environmentalists, climate activists, birders, and naturalists. So, instead of writing a bunch of my own words (and in so doing lifting my own voice instead of the voices of others), I did some poking around online to find Black environmental leaders to draw attention to. Below are links to some lists of Black leaders in the fields of the environmental movement, climate activism, birding, environmental justice, science communication and education, and many other related topics.

These lists are by no means comprehensive, but they include a lot of amazing people doing amazing work. My hope is that you take a few minutes to peruse these lists, and find some individuals who interest you. Learn more about them and the work they are doing. Find organizations they lead or work for and make a donation. Follow them on social media and so support the messages they are working to spread.

So with that, enough from me. Black lives matter. Enjoy!

SF Environment – list of Black environmentalists

GreenPeace – list of 8 Black environmental activists

Solstice – list of 20 Black climate activists

The Wilderness Society – list of 7 Black birders

“This earth is more than worth fighting for.” — Amanda Gorman

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I have gotten a lot out of birding. Being a birder has brought me joy. It has brought me knowledge. It has eased my frustrations. It has gained me friends. It has built my career. I have gotten a lot out of birding.

And I think others should be able to get all these things and more out of birding as well. If there is a desire to learn about birds, the natural world, science, or any such topic, I think that everyone should have all the same opportunities open to them so that they can pursue those opportunities to whatever extent they like. These opportunities should not be limited by a person’s skin color, religion, nation of origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, ability, age, health concerns, or any other component of a person.

I have been trying to learn more about, and pay attention to, issues of privilege and the restrictions and complications that many people face when trying to experience nature, particularly relating to birding. One my aims is to learn how to make birding as welcoming an activity and community as possible to as wide a range if people as possible. As I have been exploring these ideas, I have come across several organizations, events, and other resources that I have found to be really interesting, educational, and useful. I know that I would have liked to have had information about these organizations, events, and other resources gathered together into one place, so I am doing exactly that here.

Below is a list of links to resources on a variety of topics, and aimed at a variety of groups, that deal with and help to overcome obstacles to enjoying, participating in, and learning about birds, nature, and science. This list is by no means complete. In the comments below, please let me know about other organizations, events, and other similar resources that you think should be included, and we can build this list together.

I hope that this list helps members of these communities find like minded groups and individuals. I also hope that this list helps allies of the members of these communities to learn, find additional ways to support them, and make birding an ever more welcoming activity and inclusive community.

Diversity in Birding Resource List:

Amplify the Future – Seeks to “amplify opportunities for equity to the historically excluded in conservation, STEAM, and birding.” This organization oversees the Black & Latinx Birders Scholarship which provides funds to “Black birders or Brown birders that lives in the United States or Puerto Rico and identify as Black, African-American, and/or Latinx/e/a/o; and who are also an undergraduate student studying in STEM.”

Birdability – Is an organization that, “through education, outreach and advocacy, Birdability works to ensure the birding community and the outdoors are welcoming, inclusive, safe and accessible for everybody. We focus on people with mobility challenges, blindness or low vision, chronic illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental illness, and those who are neurodivergent, deaf or hard of hearing or who have other health concerns. In addition to current birders, we strive to introduce birding to people with disabilities and other health concerns who are not yet birders so they too can experience the joys of birding.” This organization also puts on Birdability Week each year in early October.

Birding For All – This organization is “a national voluntary organization seeking to improve access for people with disabilities to reserves, facilities and services for birding.”

Black AF in STEM Collective – This organization “seeks to support, uplift, and amplify Black STEM professionals in natural resources and the environment through professional development, career connection, and community engagement.” This organization puts Black Birders Week together at the end of May each year.

Freedom Birders – This is a project organized by Amplify the Future (see above) that “seeks to change the culture of bird watching in the United States by developing a racial justice curriculum and bird education project resourced by the lessons and inspiration of the Civil Rights Movement, the Freedom Riders, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the 1619 Project, and Black Birders Week 2020.”

Hispanic Access Foundation – This organization “connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society. One day, every Latino individual in America will enjoy good physical health and a healthy natural environment, a high-quality education, economic success and civic engagement in their community with the sum of improving the future of America.” It also organizes Latino Conservation Week in July each year.

Latino Outdoors – This organization seeks to “inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors and embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring our history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented.”

Let’s Go Birding Together – This is a series of bird walks and other event held in June in honor of Pride Month organized by the National Audubon Society which states that “walks are for everyone who loves birds and the outdoors. We welcome those who identify as LGBTQ, allies, families, and anyone who wants to enjoy an outdoor experience that is inclusive.”

Justice Outside – This organization “advances racial justice and equity in the outdoor and environmental movement. We shift resources to, build power with, and center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color because the health of current and future generations demands it.”

Outdoor Afro – This organization “has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. We are a national not for profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With more than 100 leaders in 56 cities around the country, we connect thousands of people to nature experiences, who are changing the face of conservation.”

Unlikely Hikers – Is an Instagram community, a nationwide hiking group and a podcast that seeks to create a “diverse, anti-racist, body-liberating outdoor community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson.”

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I recently learned about a scholarship intended to increase diversity in the birding community. It is called the Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship, and it is run by an organization called Amplify the Future. This scholarship was founded in 2020 and seeks to amplify the successes of Black Birders and Latinx Birders by raising funds for annual scholarships and creating networks of support. This year, the American Bird Conservancy is partnering with Amplify the Future to match all donations to this scholarship up to $10,000!

Amplify The Future | LinkedIn

The website provides this information about the scholarship: “Through the Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship, we the committee seek to increase the number of Black Birders and Latinx Birders studying in STEM. Scholarship awards range from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000, depending on funding for the current year. The application period for the 2021-2022 school year will open February 2021. The deadline for application submissions is June 18, 2021.”

The website also has more information on eligibility, how to apply, etc.

So, go check out this great opportunity, pass it along to others who might be interested, and help support diversity in the birding community!

Thanks for visiting my blog. If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a couple of options:

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