In the spring of 2020, Christian Cooper was bird watching in New York’s Central Park when a white woman called the police on Cooper, an African American man. The incident brought into sharp relief the troubling perceptions many of us have about what hobbies are appropriate for racial and ethnic groups. In solidarity with Cooper, several black bird enthusiasts, including Opoku-Agyeman, Sheridan Alford, Danielle Belleny, Chelsea Connor, Joseph Saunders, and Tykee James, banded together to form Black Birders Week. Since then, a movement to celebrate the work of black people who appreciate birds has blossomed. To celebrate the third annual Bird Watchers Week, we’ve put together the following list of bird watchers you’ll love to follow on Instagram.
Chelsea Connor @outtochelsea
Chelsea Connor is a herpetologist, artist and doctoral student from the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean. After extensively studying the dietary overlap between native and invasive species of anole on her home island as an undergraduate student, she says she is excited to continue her work on the anole as a student. graduated. Chelsea deeply admires anoles and as a science communicator she spends time gathering and sharing information about different anoles with her hashtag #DidYouAnole? on Twitter. When speaking with Sierra, Connor emphasized the importance of seeing a wide range of people in every activity. She believes that including groups that have been historically oppressed and marginalized in predominantly white spaces – like the birding community – opens up more avenues of knowledge.
Haley Scott @birdingw.hales
Haley Scott, originally from New York, went to the University of Vermont, where she studied environmental science. His second birding course, “Birding to Change the World,” offered a birding mentorship program that paired students with after-school programs to teach children about local wildlife. Scott was the only person of color in the two birding classes she took in college, but after graduating she became an active member of the Feminist Bird Club, which is made up of many people of color and LGBTQIA-plus people with zero tolerance for any form of bigotry. Connecting with the Feminist Bird Club has allowed Scott, who is Jamaican, Native American and Puerto Rican, to observe birds in a space, she says, where she feels like a member of the community rather than an outsider. Last year, she led walks with Latino Outdoors and Outdoor Afro. His favorite birds? Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, and Black-and-White Warbler.
Dudley Edmonson @sonycamera2016
Dudley Edmonson has been watching birds for 30 years. “To me, having a connection to nature is good for your mental and physical health, and birdwatching is a way to connect with nature,” he told Sierra. “Birds provide an escape into the world of something or someone else. You forget the things you’re dealing with. This interaction is usually very positive – the birds have a sense of hope attached to them. Edmonson’s photography has been featured in galleries and publications around the world. His work and adventurous travels have taken him from the Arctic Circle to Alaska, and he has been immersed in efforts to help the conservation sector become more inclusive and highlight the involvement of African Americans in the Public Land System. In fact, the House of Representatives of his home state of Minnesota appointed Dudley to the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which is charged with making funding recommendations to the legislature for the protection and restoration of grasslands, areas Minnesota wetlands and forest habitats using Clean Water. Land and heritage funds.
Isaiah Scott @ikesbirdinghikes
Isaiah Scott, 19, is by far the youngest on this list. He grew up in Savannah, Georgia, in a suburb with lots of greenery, lush trees, and open spaces. In elementary school, he loved to read books about dinosaurs, which introduced him to the world of biology. In college, he went to visit his brother at Cornell University, where he came across a large mural that showed the diversity of birds from around the world. At that time, he says he knew he wanted to pursue birding. Scott created his Instagram page, Ike’s Birding Hikes, to reach a younger generation of birdwatchers and to show young people that birdwatching is a valuable experience. The Ogeechee Audubon Chapter of Savannah made him an honorary member for his commitment to birding, and from there he has led countless local hikes. Since the first Black Birders Week, Scott, who is currently studying environment and sustainability at Cornell, has gained even more attention on Insta.
Dexter Patterson @wiscobirder
Dexter Patterson identifies himself as a “Wisco birder” and is on a mission to spread as much joy as possible by making his new hobby of birdwatching welcoming to all birdwatchers around his home country. Her Instagram followers respond enthusiastically to the energetic and exciting videos that show Patterson singing and dancing in the middle of the woods, encountering unique birds and taking captivating photos. Patterson thinks birdwatching is for everyone, and he hopes the BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin will help make birdwatching more inclusive, not just in the greater Madison community where it’s based, but in the entire Badger State.
Indigo Goodson @indigoindaflow
Brooklynite Indigo Goodson describes herself as a “pandemic birder” because she started birdwatching in 2020, after being fired and then decided to pursue endeavors that brought her joy. A member of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Goodson began spending more time in Prospect Park after the public gardens closed due to COVID-19. A friend of hers had taken up birdwatching, but Goodson says she had no immediate interest in pursuing it. Goodson remembers hearing about what Christian Cooper was doing in Central Park and being struck because she had never heard of a black man watching birds. Her friend bought her binoculars and they headed to the park. Soon she was studying open field markets and reading ornithology books. “It’s like spotting a celebrity,” she told Sierra, describing how some birds she eventually spotted in person, like a wood duck, which she had originally seen online. The real-life experience would send him into a state of deep disbelief and awe. Goodson describes herself as a “loud birder” and wants black people in particular to know that birding should include people from all walks of life.