This week’s challenge for new birders: Try joining a group for an outing, or go birding with at least one new person.
Let us know how it goes by commenting here. And if you’re already part of a birding community, tell us about it. Did you meet friends — or even your spouse — through birding? What does it bring you? In a future dispatch, we’ll share highlights from participants.
In early 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests were taking place worldwide and the pandemic was beginning to unfold, Ollie Olanipekun and Nadeem Perera founded Flock Together, a group for birders of color in Britain.
“I go to these remote towns where there’s no people of color, there’s no diversity,” Mr. Olanipekun, 38, said. “On your own, those looks you’re getting feel like daggers.” Numbers provided a sense of safety.
Since then, Flock Together has expanded its range, organizing walks in New York and Toronto; the group is most active in London and Tokyo. Thousands of people around the world have now connected with Flock Together. Midway through a typical walk, participants sometimes share poetry or other reflections. “It’s the perfect balance of nature nerds and creative heads,” Mr. Perera said.
In 2020, Hannah Kirshenbaum, 26, helped found a Brooklyn-based group called NYC Queer Birders, principally for L.G.B.T.Q. bird enthusiasts. This was just before the pandemic struck; Ms. Kirshenbaum had developed an interest in birding but as a queer person did not always feel at home with traditional birding groups. “We didn’t really see our specific demographic there,” they said.
The group has grown in popularity; its walks, initially attended by only a couple of people, now regularly attract 50 to 100. The draw is social as well as to nature. “We hope that people make friends — or lovers,” Ms. Kirshenbaum said.
Here are some tips to finding a group that’s right for you. Start close to home: Check the schedule at nearby parks or nature reserves, where events might already be taking place, Mr. Olanipekun said. “Lots of people don’t understand the incredible programming that takes place in local parks,” he said.
As part of The Times’s summer birding project, BirdLife International and some Audubon Society chapters have organized special outings from July 28 to 30. See below for more details.
Mr. Olanipekun said that aspiring birders should not let a lack of knowledge hold them back. “The barrier to entry for the activity of bird-watching is super, super, super low,” he said.
Ms. Kirshenbaum recommended poking around on social media for events. “I would just type in ‘queer birding’ on Instagram, and I bet your city has something,” they said. “And if not, you should start it.”