The network of trails that compose the Central Park Ramble is one of the few places in Manhattan where its natural beauty can almost make you feel as if you have left the city. During migration, this heavily wooded section of Central Park is one of the best places to watch birds in the state. I have had the pleasure of seeing Hooded, Prothonotary, Blue-Winged, and Kentucky Warblers in this 38 acre section of the park. Growing up in the City, Central Park and its Ramble is the closest thing I have to a backyard, so I was depressed when it started appearing on the news for all the wrong reasons. As you must have heard, NYC Audubon Board of Directors member Christian Cooper, who is black, was birding in the Ramble and politely asked a white woman to put her dog on its leash, as it was endangering the plant life. His video of her racial intimidation and making a false police report has appalled people in New York and around the world. In a city that prides itself on its diversity, we have to confront our false belief that in its most beautiful public spaces, all can fully relax and put their guard down.
We as birders are welcoming people, but we need to do more to make sure that diverse groups of people find us who would enjoy learning about birding. Birding is a hobby that is stereotypically linked with old white people, but that is not true. Birding has become more and more diverse over the years in both age and race. Birding is a rapidly expanding hobby, that fits well with the modern era. We as birders believe that everyone needs to grow up not just knowing but feeling that public parks belong to all. So how as birders and protectors of the environment can we make a difference and help end racism? We must do more to encourage diversity inside our hobby. We birders speak the same language regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or religion, so what better passion than birding to bring people together. We as birders should put more initiative into becoming even more welcoming.
I would also like to bring to your attention Black Birders Week, which starts today, May 31-June 5th.
#BlackBirdsWeek, a new birding event circulating as a hashtag on Twitter, is in an effort to discuss the obstacles black birders face.
#BlackBirdersWeek on Twitter.
May 31 #BlackInNature, Celebrating Black nature enthusiast everywhere
June 1 #PostABird Challenge, Post any bird you find of a bird fact with the hashtag
June 2 #AsA BlackBirder, 2-hr Q&A with Black Birders on Twitter 7pm-9pm EST.
June 4 #BirdingWhileBlack Live Stream Discussion tinyurl.com/BlackBirders 7pm-8:30pm EST
June 5 #BlackWomenWhoBird, Follow all the amazing #blackWomenWhoBird