This week’s challenge for new birders: Try joining a group on a walk, or going birding with at least one new birder.
Let us know how it goes Comment here. And if you are already part of the birding community, let us know. Have you met friends – or even your spouse – through the birds? What do you bring? In a future post, we’ll share highlights from the participants.
In early 2020, with Black Lives Matter protests raging across the world and a pandemic beginning to unfold, Ole Olanibikon and Nadim Pereira founded Flock Together, a group of colorful birds in Britain.
“I go to these remote towns where there are no people of color, there is no diversity,” said Mr. Olanipekun, 38. “On your own, those look like daggers.” The numbers provided a sense of security.
since then, flock together expanded its range, organizing walking tours in New York and Toronto; The group is most active in London and Tokyo. Thousands of people around the world are now connected to Flock Together. In the middle of a typical walk, participants sometimes share poetry or other musings. “It’s the perfect balance of nature nerds and creative heads,” said Mr. Pereira.
In 2020, Hannah Kirshenbaum, 26, helped found a group called NYC Queer Birders, mainly for LGBTQ bird lovers. This was just before the pandemic hit; Mrs. Kirschenbaum had developed an interest in birds, but as an eccentric, she didn’t always feel at home with traditional bird collections. They said, “We haven’t really seen our demographics out there.”
The group grew in popularity. Its walks, which at first were attended by only two people, now regularly attract between 50 and 100. The draw is social as well as nature. “We hope people will be friends — or lovers,” said Ms. Kirschenbaum.
Here are some tips for finding a group that works for you. Start close to home: Check the schedule at nearby parks or nature reserves, said Mr Olanipekun, where events may already be. “A lot of people don’t understand the amazing programming that happens in local parks,” he said.
As part of The Times’ Summer Bird Project, BirdLife International and some chapters of the Audubon Society organized special outings from July 28-30. See below for more details.
Mr Olanipekun said that bird aspirants should not let a lack of knowledge hold them back. “The barrier to entry for birdwatching is very high and very low,” he said.
Ms. Kirshenbaum recommended searching social media for events. “I was going to write ‘queer birding’ on Instagram,” they said, “and I bet your city has something on it.” “And if not, you must begin.”