Wild Things

Rules for the Black Birdwatcher

I’m an ornithologist and wildlife ecology professor at Clemson University. I’ve been a birder since the second grade. Birds are my vehicle for appreciating nature and the vital ecological, psychological, and spiritual connections that intersect between feathers, flight, wonder, and wings. In my fascination and worship of all things avian, I’m joined by millions who appreciate the importance that birds play in all our lives. I list a multitude of birders among my closest friends and kindred spirits. Those fellow “bird nerds” make my life richer and contribute to social aspects of birding that just make it a damn fun thing to do!

“Nine Rules for the Black Birdwatcher” is a piece I originally wrote for Orion magazine, now adapted into the video above. It’s my satirical take on some of the challenges I’ve faced as a birder who just happens to be a relative rarity among the largely white flock. My hope is that the Nine Rules somehow move us into conversations about how to make the environment and conservation more colorful both in composition and consideration.

Video produced by Ari Daniel. Videography by Amanda Kowalski. A BirdNote Production.