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Showing posts from August, 2009

Diversity and the Future of Birding, part 2

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: A few days ago (August 24) I wrote about the lack of diversity in the birdwatching community. This issue has bugged me for some time, but on the other hand, I’m encouraged to know some individuals who are actively doing something about it. John C. Robinson has been a friend for several years. We had corresponded before we met, so I knew he was an expert birder before I knew he was African-American. John has been a writer and consultant on a number of topics, but with his status as a black bird expert, it was perhaps only natural that he would become a spokesperson on the issue of diversity in birding and outdoor recreation. At a conservation summit before the Midwest Birding Symposium in 2003, I heard John speak on this subject, and he was very persuasive and compelling. More recently he has published a book that addresses the same issue, Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers. It’s a thought-provoking work that

Living Colors: Diversity and the Future of Birding

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From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: Okay, here’s some talk about a subject that a lot of us seem to have trouble talking about. My serious interest in birds began at age six, but at first I birded alone. Then as a young man I was traveling and meeting other birders just a few at a time. So after two decades I still didn’t have a real sense of what the birding community was like. Finally by about the time I hit thirty, I was getting invited to speak to bird clubs and birding festivals all over the continent, and it dawned on me: Wow, we’re practically all white people here. Once I had noticed, it was strikingly obvious. I’d be doing a bird program for an audience of 200 in New York, or South Carolina, or Alabama, or Chicago, and I’d realize that there wasn’t a single black face in the crowd. Or I’d be talking to a large group at a bird meeting in California or Arizona or Texas, and there would be hardly a face in the room that looked Hispanic or Native American. The situation remai

Green Season in Trinidad and Tobago

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From back home in Ohio, Kenn writes: Most birding tours to Trinidad and Tobago (T & T) are planned for winter or early spring. That’s the season when you can expect the highest total number of species, because the local resident birds are joined by migrants from the north -- padding the list with birds that you could have seen back in Ohio or New Jersey during the summer. People who judge the success of a birding trip by the sheer number of species seen (we’re not among them) might see that as reason enough to go to Trinidad in winter. Winter and early spring are the seasons when most other tourists go to T & T also. Partly they go in winter to escape the cold weather up north. But another factor is that the other half of the year, June through November, is what used to be referred to as Trinidad’s rainy season. I say "used to be" because we’ve changed it. That half of the year is now known as the "Green Season." Yeah, there’s some rain. But we just spe