Several New Yorkers came out to take part in the annual #BlackBirdersWeek, which was also held in cities across the country May 28 through June 3.

On the last day of the celebrated week, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Christina Tobitsch and National Audubon Society’s Roslyn Rivas led a “Bilingual Bird Walk” through Brooklyn Bridge Park. While walking through the park’s Pier 1 area, tour participants were able to view Barn Swallows, American Robins, Pigeons, House Sparrows, European Starlings, Cardinals, Grackles, Mallard Ducks and Brooklyn’s most common bird, the Blue Jay.

Later that afternoon, the local chapter of Outdoor Afro sponsored a “Raptors of New York City: Live Bird Demonstration” at Williamsburg’s Marsha P. Johnson State Park. Children and their parents were able to learn about and meet native red-tailed hawks and Eastern Screech owls.

Black Birder’s Week, created by the Black AF In STEM Collective, encourages people of African descent to take part in outdoor activities like birdwatching, kayaking, hiking and just generally doing things that expose them to nature. 

The week was conceived of in the aftermath of the notorious May 2020 confrontation between Christian Cooper and a white woman who tried to harass him while he was birdwatching in Central Park. 

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In a viral video, Christian Cooper, who is a board member of the New York City Audubon Society and a former Marvel Comics editor, is seen informing Amy Cooper (no relation) that she’s required to have her dog on a leash. In retaliation, Amy called 9-1-1 and falsely claimed that “There is an African American man—I am in Central Park—he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.” 

That effort to basically put Christian Cooper’s life in jeopardy because he had simply asked her to do what she was supposed to be doing––to leash her dog––led many Black bird watchers and those who otherwise work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to talk about ways to insert more Black faces into STEM field spaces.

The threat of #BirdWatchingWhileBlack turned into #BlackBirdersWeek which features online and in person events that feature Black nature enthusiasts. The week also notes resources for those who are new to Black STEM and want to join the fun.

Black AF in STEM Collective tweeted: “We do know that birding has many benefits including improvement to our mental health and well-being, builds community, helps us appreciate and take better care of the nature around us, and brings joy.”

Meanwhile New York City’s now famed Black Birder, Christian Cooper, has moved on past the Central Park incident with the dog walker. He is set to host the new Nat Geo WILD show “Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper,” which premieres this June. Cooper also has a new book coming out, “Better Living Through Birding: NOTES FROM A BLACK MAN IN THE NATURAL WORLD.”