Black Birders Week

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Co-organizer Corina Newsome with Tony, a Hyacinth Macaw, in 2017

Black Birders Week is a week-long series of online events to highlight Black nature enthusiasts and to increase the visibility of Black birders, who face unique challenges and dangers when engaging in outdoor activities.[1] The event was created as a response to the Central Park birdwatching incident and police brutality against Black Americans. The inaugural event ran from May 31 to June 5, 2020. The week of events was organized by a group of STEM professionals and students known as the BlackAFinSTEM collective.[2]


Black Birders Week was announced on Twitter on May 29, 2020.[3][1] The initiative was prompted in part by the Central Park birdwatching incident and episodes of killings and police brutality against Black Americans such as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.[4][5][6] According to co-founder Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, the goal of the initiative is "normalizing the fact that Black people exist in the birding and natural sciences community".[7] Black people have historically been excluded from academic and professional spaces and lack visibility and representation in the natural sciences community and among birders in particular. Lack of representation also has a chilling effect on the ability to enjoy the outdoors and nature.[7][8]

The week-long event was conceived and organized by members of a group of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals and students known as BlackAFinSTEM collective. In addition to Opoku-Agyeman, other co-founders include Jason Ward, Sheridan Alford, Danielle Belleny, Chelsea Connor, Joseph Saunders, and Tykee James.[9][10][11][12]

2020 Series[edit]

The event series ran from May 31 to June 5 using the #BlackBirdersWeek hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Through these events and others, the series highlighted research carried out by Black birders, the happiness they find in nature, the racism experienced, and the importance of inclusivity in the outdoors.[13] Furthermore, the series drew attention to several Black birders and naturalists, including Birds of North America''s host Jason Ward, wildlife biologist and author J. Drew Lanham, wildlife conservationist Corina Newsome, National Audubon Society's government affairs coordinator Tykee James, and herpetologist and science communicator Earyn McGee.[14][15]


In response to the 2020 series, the National Wildlife Federation planned to dedicate part of their Conservation Fellowship and Intern Programs[16] to young biologists of color.[17]The organisers intend to continue the series in future years.[4] The event also inspired other similar week-long events celebrating Black people in various STEM fields, #BlackInAstro week, #BlackBotanistsWeek, #BlackInNeuro, and #BlackInChem.[18][19]

Media coverage[edit]

The series was endorsed and promoted by advocacy groups, conservation organizations, and government agencies including: the National Audubon Society,[1] the American Birding Association,[20] the American Bird Conservancy,[21][22] the North American Association for Environmental Education,[23] the National Wildlife Refuge System,[24] the US National Park Service,[7] the California Coastal Commission,[25] Outdoor Afro,[26] Orion magazine,[27] and the Ecological Society of America.[28] The 2020 series was also highlighted by several science and popular media and news outlets including: CNN,[7] Forbes,[29] The Guardian,[30] Science,[31] Scientific American,[13] National Geographic,[32] Smithsonian magazine,[11] Audubon magazine,[1] Bird Watching magazine,[33] Sierra Club,[34] Backpacker magazine,[35] and NPR.[36]


  1. ^ a b c d Mock, Jillian (June 1, 2020). "'Black Birders Week' Promotes Diversity and Takes on Racism in the Outdoors". Audubon Magazine. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  2. ^ O'Toole, Hillarie (Fall 2020). "#BlackBirdersWeek: Listen, Learn, and Act" (PDF). The Urban Audubon. XLI: 8.
  3. ^ "Coming to your screens May 31st - June 5th #BlackBirdersWeek organised by #BlackAFinSTEM". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Sloat, Sarah. "Black Birders Week responds to racism with a celebration of Black naturalists". Inverse. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  5. ^ Froelich, Paula (June 6, 2020). "Viral video of Central Park 'Karen' Amy Cooper spawns #BlackBirdersWeek". New York Post. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  6. ^ Qaiser, Farah. "#BlackBirdersWeek highlights Black nature enthusiasts and scientists". Massive Science. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Willingham, AJ. "These Black nature lovers are busting stereotypes, one cool bird at a time". CNN. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Kormann, Carolyn. "Corina Newsome and the Black Birders Movement". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  9. ^ "What is #BlackBirdersWeek and why does it matter". Earth Touch News Network. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  10. ^ "BlackAFinSTEM". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Kutz, Cat. "#BlackBirdersWeek: Celebrating and Encouraging Diversity in Conservation". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  12. ^ Lambert, Jonathan (June 4, 2020). "A #BlackBirdersWeek cofounder aims to amplify black nature enthusiasts". Science News. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Thompson, Andrea. "Black Birders Call Out Racism, Say Nature Should Be For Everyone". Scientific American. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  14. ^ "Black birders week". Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  15. ^ "Black Birdwatchers Face Racism Too". Voice of America. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  16. ^ "Fellowships - EcoLeaders". National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  17. ^ "#BecauseOfBlackBirdersWeek, the National Wildlife Federation is expanding its Conservation Fellowship". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  18. ^ "Black In Neuro Week is coming to a timeline near you". The British Neuroscience Association. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  19. ^ Mallenbaum, Carly. "#BlackBirdersWeek, #BlackInNeuro: Black scientists, physicians are using hashtags to uplift". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  20. ^ "This is an amazing initiative. Please follow, support, and spread the word about #BlackBirdersWeek". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  21. ^ "American Bird Conservancy is proudly supporting the inaugural #BlackBirdersWeek this week. It's not too late to follow the hashtags to celebrate and support the diversity of all those who enjoy birds". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  22. ^ Mendenhall, Matt (2020-06-03). "#BlackBirdersWeek Aims to Raise Awareness, Grow Community". American Bird Conservancy. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  23. ^ "Black Birders Week". NAAEE. 2020-05-29. Retrieved 2020-07-02.
  24. ^ "Some 30 African American scientists, birders & others will host #BlackBirdersWeek starting Sunday. The goal: to encourage birding among more people of color. Follow the hashtag & @BlackAFinSTEM here and on Instagram. /Lamar Gore, USFWS". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  25. ^ "#BlackBirdersWeek aims to raise awareness, grow community". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  26. ^ Wolfe, Kerry (June 3, 2020). "It's Black Birders Week—Here's Why Celebrating Black Scientists and Naturalists Matters". Mental Floss. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  27. ^ "YES. #BlackBirdersWeek, May 31 - June 5. Thank you, @JasonWardNY". Twitter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "It's #BlackBirdersWeek and today's Q&A day!". Twitter. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  29. ^ Cat, Linh Anh. "Opening The Outdoors: Inaugural Black Birders Week". Forbes. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  30. ^ Noor, Poppy (May 31, 2020). "Being black while in nature: 'You're an endangered species'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  31. ^ Langin, Katie (June 5, 2020). "'I can't even enjoy this.' #BlackBirdersWeek organizer shares her struggles as a black scientist". Science. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  32. ^ Bale, Rachael (June 4, 2020). "Everyone can watch the birds". National Geographic. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  33. ^ "#BlackBirdersWeek aims to raise awareness, grow community". BirdWatching. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  34. ^ "Birding While Black". Sierra Club. 2020-06-04. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  35. ^ Lyons, Casey. "Birding While Black". Backpacker. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  36. ^ "#BlackBirdersWeek Seeks To Make The Great Outdoors Open To All". Retrieved June 5, 2020.

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