Black Birders Week is Back in 2021

Black Birders Week is a weeklong event that celebrates the diversity of birdwatchers and nature lovers. Here's how to participate.

Black birders weekCourtesy @thewildlifehost/Instagram
Ashley Gary explores nature with friends for Black Birders Week.

When is Black Birders Week?

The second annual #BlackBirdersWeek takes place from Sunday, May 30 to Saturday, June 5. Black Birders Week aims to spotlight the many unique ways Black people connect in the outdoors. The event is coordinated by The BlackAFInSTEM Collective – a collective that “seeks to support, uplift, and amplify Black Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics professionals in natural resources and the environment through professional development, career connection, and community engagement.”

Walking in the woods, spotting a bird through your binoculars is an activity everyone should be able to enjoy. Unfortunately, people of color sometimes feel unwelcome while pursuing their passion for nature. The weeklong event, which first took place in 2020, continues the goals of lifting up black birders, forming a community and fighting discrimination.

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How to Participate in Black Birders Week 2021

Special events include daily giveaways, virtual birdwatching, trivia, and storytelling for kids with Black naturalists, historians and nature lovers. Don’t miss a Facebook livestream of the #SafeInNature discussion with Monique Pipkin, M.S. and Dr. Amelia Demery, M.S. on Thursday, June 3, from 7 – 8 pm ET.

To participate in Black Birders Week, follow the hashtag #BlackBirdersWeek2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Share photos, engage with the content and videos, and support acceptance for all bird lovers. Other hashtags to use include #BlackInNature, #BirdsOnMyBlock and #LiferMemories.

Ashley Gary, founder of TheWildlifeHost.com, says, “I’m so excited to be a part of this movement to turn this injustice into a spotlight for the black people who endure bias and harm as we just try to enjoy the natural world around us.” She posted a photo of herself exploring the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland, with friends Diamonique Clark and Jessica Macer.

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Black birders weekCourtesy @Mrosten/Instagram
Marcus Rosten holds a wood duck.

Raise Awareness

Naturalist and environmental educator Marcus Rosten celebrated being #BlackinNature by going for a paddle along Ellicott Creek in Western New York. He is the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Manager for Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management.

“Black Birders Week is important to me because it is great to raise the awareness that black birders exist. Growing up I did not know any environmentalists or outdoors people that looked like me. Even today, I have only met one other birder of color in Western New York,” he says. “This week is a reminder to non-black birders that we are out here sharing the same spaces. Unfortunately I have had occasions where I have been perceived a threat and have been threatened for just birding in the local hotspot that I explore weekly.”

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Diversity of Voices

Chelsea Connor is a university student in Texas from the Commonwealth of Dominica. She has had a long standing love for birds, constantly poring through her cherished field guide copy for her island. Chelsea fondly recalls observing her grandmother’s small flock of bananaquits feed on sugar when she visited, and watching a mated pair of Sisserou (endemic parrots) at her island’s Botanical Gardens.

“Black Birders Week was created to promote visibility and increase the representation of Black people in the field. We are being seen and people are talking about it. Those dialogues are important in order to have more Black people enter, stay in and flourish in birding. It’s not enough to just say you’re bringing in people because diversity is needed, you have to make sure they’re still on equal footing once you get them in there,” Chelsea says. “Black Birders Week is amazing and the response is breathtaking. It’s showing me that there is a place for me in my field, for my voice, experiences and insight.”

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