Watch: Christian Cooper discusses birding and diversity

A wood duck (Aix sponsa) in New York City’s Central Park. Credit: seabamirum

New York birder Christian Cooper took to PBS’s science series NOVA to discuss the intricate sounds of bird calls, color morphs and the important of diversity in birding. Cooper originally made the news in May 2020 when he experienced racist discrimination while birding in New York City’s Central Park.

A number of initiatives arose in response to this confrontation, including the creation of #BlackBirdersWeek to raise awareness about some of the challenges naturalists of color experience in the field.

In the video, Cooper discussed urban birds, color morphs in feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica) and birds sounds. He also talks about the importance of keeping dogs leashed in protected areas to conserve bird species. In addition, Cooper notes that efforts like Black Birders Week can help get more people of color involved in birding or other types of naturalism.

“If we want conservation to continue, if we want the birds to survive, we have got to expand the population of birders,” Cooper said. “The complexion of the country is changing. In some places it has already changed like here in New York City. If we don’t start bringing people into birding, there will be no constituency to support conservation, to support the birds.”