Black bird watching group provides a safe space for people of colour in nature

Flock Together aims to tackle the historic exclusion of people of colour from spaces of nature.

For many Black people and other ethnic minority groups, nature spaces can still feel incredibly hostile. Going to the park alone, traveling in small groups, or bird-watching can cause people to stare at you questioningly, call the police or just outright make you feel ‘out of place’. As a nature-loving person of colour, it can feel as though there is a different set of rules you need to abide by. We see this hostility and discriminatory exclusion happen again and again in spaces of nature and communities dedicated to the natural world. For example, the cropping of Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate out of a group photo with Greta Thunberg and three other white female activists. Or, when Christian Cooper, a Black science writer and long-term bird-watcher (he had been President of the Harvard Orthological Club in the 1980s) had the police called on him by Amy Cooper, a white woman.

Flock Together group

Though the charges against Amy Cooper have since been dropped, the incident led to the creation of #blackbirdersweek, an initiative to showcase Black birders around the world, and to promote diversity within the sector. The long-term benefits humans get from being outside are well documented, but the reality is that people from ethnic minority groups may miss out on the joys of nature because of discrimination, racism and exclusion  [ . . . ]

Flock Together group

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Rare half-male and half-female northern nardinal bird spotted in Pennsylvania

‘It was one of the experiences of a lifetime’

A bird-watcher in Pennsylvania snapped a photo of a “one-in-a-million” encounter with a northern cardinal that was half male and half female.

Jamie Hill, 69, who has been bird-watching for nearly 50 years, spotted the unusual sight of the half red, half white bird, in a tree in Warren County, outside of the city of Erie, last week.

“It was one of the experiences of a lifetime,” Mr Hill told USA Today.

That’s because male northern cardinals have bright red feathers, and females have tan feathers.

This bird was both.

The extremely rare phenomenon is known as “a bilateral gynandromorph”. They differ from hermaphrodites who share both or partial male and female sexual reproductive organs, in that their whole body is divided down the middle biologically and it could, therefore, theoretically mate with either a male or female, and produce young. Continue reading

Birdwatching for peace of mind and better health

Birding

(CNN) — Spring is almost here when millions of birds will begin to pass through our cities and towns on their trek back north – known as Spring migration. For me, the excitement about birds is year-round. Few things pull me out of a funk like the sudden appearance of a bluebird in my backyard, the vivid blue against a green magnolia tree like an exclamation point.

I scramble for binoculars to get a closer look, and as I turn the focus wheel, my cloudy, scattered mind refocuses, too. The tiny indigo beauty rewards me with a chest puff, a rust-colored breast popping against the brilliant blue.

The sound of bird song and rustling leaves lead me to take a deep sip of fresh air, and the tightness in my chest disappears. My spirits, low since my mother’s death, lift for now. I look skyward for the next flutter.

Birding to calm the mind

When you’re birding, “you’re almost in a different world,” said Heather Wolf, a bird guide for NYC Audubon in New York.

It’s a skill of fine-tuned observation, which rewards the birder with a new perspective.

“All of the things that might be weighing you down in your daily life, it’s an escape. You forget about them when you’re birding,” Wolf said.

Wolf leads a group through Brooklyn Bridge Park, a mini birding oasis, complete with a stunning backdrop.

She takes the binocular-wearing birders through a paved path surrounded by foliage. You can hear the tweeting as birds dash between bushes or hop up tree trunks.

Wolf excitedly points out species along the walk: “A phoebe just landed.” “Oh wow!! that’s a woodpecker. It’s a downy woodpecker. Everyone see that?”

Her excitement is infectious. There are more than 900 species of birds in the U.S. and Canada. Many of the birders on this walk are in their 30s, as birding increasingly draws a younger crowd [ . . . ]

Continue at CNN: Birdwatching for peace of mind and better health

Ecotourism in the UK: A boon for nature and people

In a photo, the building at Swallow Moss in Staffordshire looks like a small stone shed, unremarkable, something you might see anywhere around the Peak District. But the story behind it is a sad one, for the environment and the local economy.

For the ‘shed’ was actually a bird watching hide, used by visitors from across the Midlands and southern England, to see a displaying group of the rare black grouse.

But now the moorland edge is silent. The black grouse are gone, as are many of the birdwatchers, who could be spending their money in local B&Bs, pubs and shops, as well as occupying this hide.Instead, those who pursue the nation’s second most popular outdoor pursuit very often go elsewhere. For the Peak District is missing not just black grouse, but the once native populations of many of its most charismatic species, such as the majestic, much-persecuted, hen harrier. [ . . . ] Continue at source

Source: Ecotourism in the UK: A boon for nature and people | Green World

Giant finches invade Scotland

An unusually high number of giant finches look likely to arrive in Scotland this winter

There have been record sightings of hawfinches in England and Wales and now they are reportedly travelling north with several already having been spotted here in the last week.

The influx is a real treat as these birds are shy and elusive, and there are thought to be fewer than 1000 pairs in the UK.

Hawfinches are the nutcrackers of the bird world, with their massive parrot like bills that can crack even the hardest nutshells.

Read more at http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/giant-finches-invade-scotland#QO8wzufbEIstgG1k.99

Source: Giant finches invade Scotland