An introduction to #BlackBirdersWeek
Late last month, following a traumatic, eye-opening experience by birder Christian Cooper in Central Park, a new initiative was started to spotlight diversity and give much-deserved attention to people of color in the birding and scientific community. #BlackBirdersWeek began on Sunday, May 31, 2020, and continues through Friday, June 5. The week-long endeavor features many activities, such as the #PostABird challenge to show species seen and provide insightful facts about the birds and a very well-attended #AskABlackBirder Twitter discussion. Questions covered topics from urban birding to “what’s your favorite bird?”.
On June 4, there will be a livestream called #BirdingWhileBlack at tinyurl.com/BlackBirders. #BlackBirdersWeek ends with another great hashtag blitz, #BlackWomenWhoBird. Simply search for the hashtag on Twitter to discover all of the amazing women of color making strides in birding, biology, zoology, and more.
Finding a Way to Get Involved
The Rogue Birders have always tried to help out the birding community – especially in Ohio. Admittedly, it was a bit of a challenge knowing exactly what we could or should do – if anything – during #BlackBirdersWeek. We are currently a group of white men and women that have never experienced the challenges faced by Birders of Color. I started thinking about the things that we do know. We know about birds, obviously. We know about wildlife rehab, beer, green birding, bird songs, and bird photography.
While all of these topics could be of interest to some in the birding community, I personally had no one I could reach out to for a different perspective. Thankfully, because of #BlackBirdersWeek, I have been able to connect with more Black Birders and Birders of Color! However, it is understandably a busy time for them right now, so I wanted to focus on what we could do to help. So, what else do we know about?
After asking myself that question, I hopped on Facebook to let my brain do its own thing while I read random posts and looked at pretty bird photos. The very first post I saw held the answer to what we could do!
East Clark Elementary School – Cleveland, Ohio
Young Birders – specifically the Ohio Young Birders Club – is an initiative that the Rogue Birders have supported for a long time. As a board member of the Ohio Ornithological Society (4 of us!) we have had the opportunity to sponsor field trips, provide grants for bird camps, and lead walks for young birders. We are well aware that the future of not only birding, but also conservation and habitat protection, is in the hands of these amazing kids. Most of whom seem to already know more about birds and conservation at a young age than us old people do. (Hey! I’m not old! – Alex)
The Facebook post that I saw was from a friend and educator in Cleveland, OH. Richard “Buster” Banish had created a post with photos of his group of East Clark Elementary School young birders that he mentors in Cleveland, OH. I reached out to Buster and offered to help spread the word about his “Bird Nerds”, as they call themselves. During our conversation, I discovered that the kids were all planning to attend The Biggest Week in American Birding this year before the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans. Though the kids were disappointed, they still continue to #BirdOn (you see where this is going?).
I asked Buster if he thought the kids would like to have their own #BirdOn shirts. He said they would love that! They are big fans of The Biggest Week and Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and they are allowed to wear their birding gear to school – as long as it is the school’s colors. I asked what the school’s colors are – praying he did not say maize and blue!! – and he replied, “Red and white”. PERFECT! Let’s do this!
How You Can Help
The young birders at East Clark Elementary School have been recognized and supported by Swarovski, Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland, and Patterson’s Fruit Farm. They have also all become members of the Ohio Young Birders Club. These young men and women of color are the ambassadors of the natural world in the big urban city of Cleveland, OH
You can help support the East Clark Bird Nerds by donating to provide each of the 18 students their own #BirdOn shirt!
100% of your donation will go to purchasing #BirdOn shirts for the kids and excess funds will be used to support the “Bird Nerds” club in Cleveland, OH by providing field guides, birding trips and festival registrations, or other items that the program needs.
Funds are being collected through the Ohio Ornithological Society’s website at: https://ohiobirds.org/membership/donate-now/
Please lend your support to the future of birding and conservation!
More Bird Nerds
Photos courtesy of Richard “Buster” Banish.
Special Thanks to Jari L. Javier @jarildy for lending an ear and her perspective to help make this fundraiser successful.
None of the links in this post are monetized – companies and organizations are not sponsors of Rogue Birders, nor do we make any money from them. We just thought it would be nice to include them for the great work that they are doing!