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Conversations With Birds

February 18–June 4, 2023

silhouetted children running against orange sunset with birds

children running into sunset with silhouettes of birds

Birds are all around us. As they glide through the sky and alight on tree branches, telephone lines and roof eaves, they provide a momentary sense of delight — an accessible way of connecting with the natural world, even in urban Philadelphia.

Opening in time for the 2023 spring migration, Conversations With Birds celebrates the many ways that we are inspired by these magnificent, feathered creatures, here in the city and around the world.

Discover the fascinating lives of local bird populations and the astounding migrators that fly through the region. Glimpse nest-cam footage of a peregrine falcon, and enjoy stunning avian photography and video by local birders and wildlife photographers. Explore unique bird architecture and flight through hands-on activities. Investigate real-time migration data gathered from BirdCast, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s forecast radar, and other innovative bird-tracking technology. Learn about the challenges birds face in urban environments and how you can help protect them by creating bird-friendly habitats or advocating for bird-safe changes in your neighborhood.

Plus, check the schedule for these additional opportunities:

  • Observe specimen preparation by Academy bird scientists and learn more about the institution's Ornithology Collection and its ongoing biodiversity and evolution research.
  • Join experts from local birding groups as well as Drexel’s Writer’s Room for activities and conversations.
  • Sign up for special birding excursions! Check back soon for more details.

Looking to get started birding yourself? Check out these tips and resources.

All exhibits are included with the purchase of a general admission ticket.



Avian Adaptations: Wing and Egg Demonstrations 
February 18 to May 21, 2023 
Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. 
Sundays, 1–4 p.m. 
Free with admission

There are 10,000 species of birds, and each has adapted to its environment throughout time to ensure its survival. Come learn how birds' wings enable them to soar, hunt, escape and dive by crafting wing models and testing different designs. Together we will examine replica nests and develop your own experimental egg shapes to see if you can crack the code to keep birds safe. Learn about the birds that call Philadelphia home and how we can help protect them while you explore specimens from our collection. This investigatory station is hands-on and fun for all ages. 



Conversations With Birds Saturday Events Series
February 18–May 21, 2023
Select Saturdays, 2–4 p.m.
Free with admission

Join the flock with our Conversations With Birds Saturday Events Series! Meet birdwatching and conservation groups from Philadelphia and beyond and learn why they are inspired by our avian neighbors. You’ll have the opportunity to meet members of local groups, write poetry, watch films and make art with people across diverse backgrounds and practices with an abiding connection to our fine-feathered friends. Find out how these groups created a place for themselves in nature not only out in the wilderness, but also in the suburban and urban environments that birds also call home. Learn how people who appreciate birds build a community centered around science, art, culture and engagement, and how you can join them on their excursions and bird-loving adventures. You might just find a flock of your own.   

Drawing From the Collection With Artist Caitlin McCormack
Saturday, May 6, 2–4 p.m.

Join us for an artist talk from Philadelphia-based fiber artist Caitlin McCormack. McCormack will discuss how osteological displays of birds and other animals inform their work and delve into their process for developing their incredible crocheted sculptures!

Following the presentation, McCormack will bring out some of their one-of-a-kind artworks, personal artifacts and specimens pulled from the Academy's Ornithology Collection for an all-ages family friendly drink and draw. One non-alcoholic beverage is included with your participation.  No experience making art? Not a problem. McCormack will guide doodlers and experienced illustrators alike through creative drawing exercises. All art abilities are welcomed, and drawing materials will be provided, though we encourage you to bring your sketchbook if you have one. 

About Catilin McCormack

Caitlin McCormack is a Philadelphia-based fiber artist who has participated in solo and group exhibitions at The Mütter Museum, Museum Rijswijk (NL), Mesa Contemporary Art Museum, The Taubman Museum of Art, Hashimoto Contemporary, The Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Feinkünst Krüger (DEU), Vanilla Gallery (JP), Rhodes Contemporary (UK), Field Projects, MoCA Westport and SPRING/BREAK Art Show inNYC. Their work has appeared in publications including Juxtapoz, Hyperallergic, Smithsonian, The Guardian, Whitehot Magazine, Fiber Art Now and Bust Magazine, and their sculptures were the subject of an interview with Jim Cotter for Articulate on PBS. McCormack has worked as an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and Hussian College of Art and Design. They completed artist residencies at ChaNorth (NY), The Peter Bullough Foundation (VA) and The Wassaic Project (NY) and received a Joseph Robert Foundation grant in 2021.

Advance Film Screening of "With Hope" with filmmaker Matte Hewitt
Saturday, May 13 , 2–4 p.m.

Attend an advance screening of “With Hope,” a documentary film centering the experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people who reconnect to the natural world through the act of birding, and by doing so discover a profound sense of belonging, joy and hope. Featured in the film are members of a growing community of birders in the Philadelphia area, including: In Color Birding Club, Philly Queer Birders, and Feminist Bird Club Philly. Together, the film participants create space for themselves, which wasn’t there before and help provide access for those who haven’t always seen themselves represented in birding. The film also features bird species that mirror the histories and identities that watch them. Despite coming from different backgrounds, the people starring in “With Hope'' share a perspective of birds and of nature that continues to inspire, to challenge, to comfort, and to awaken delight, while enhancing their relationship with themselves, with each other, and ultimately with the world in which we live.

The film is great for all ages and runs approximately 30 mins. It will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Matte Hewitt along with film participants: Katrina Clark, teacher and board member of In Color Birding Club; Jason Hall, vaccine developer and founder of In Color Birding Club; Elise Greenberg, school administrator and founder of Philly Queer Birders; Dylan O’Donoghue, Ph.D. student and member of Feminist Bird Club Philly.

Support for "With Hope" was provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation and by Scribe Video Center.

About Matte Hewitt

Matte Hewitt (they/them/their) is a community-engaged documentary filmmaker, artist, scholar, and avid birder who addresses social and environmental issues in their work. Collectivism and the interconnectedness of humans and ecological systems drives their investigation. In their current work, they use documentary film to represent the positive effects of birding and being outdoors, both on individuals and communities, especially those of minority groups. Matt's research converges between Queer Ecology, Ornithology, Participatory Community Media, Natural History, Racial Discourse, Land Use, and Conservation Psychology. Matt is a Film Scholar at Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia and a recipient of the Independent Creative Production Grant from the Penn Sachs Program for Arts Innovation.

The Birds of Philadelphia With Jason Hall
Saturday, May 20, 2–4 p.m.

Join Jason Hall, founder of In Color Birding Club, to explore the birds of Philadelphia. Hall will walk us through some of the most iconic birds of all four seasons and where to find them. And yes, this will include our beloved eagles! From West Philly and South Philly, to North Philly and even Center City, Philly has a lot to offer birders of all levels of experience.

About Jason Hall

In Color Birding Club (ICBC) is a new non-profit organization founded on the principle that birding is for everyone, especially historically marginalized communities. ICBC focuses on ensuring Black and brown communities have a strong, joyful, consistent and meaningful access point to birding and nature exploration overall. ICBC focuses its efforts in and around the Greater Philadelphia area by offering bird outings, field trips, school supply fundraisers and bus sponsorships.

Conversation With Birds is generously supported by the LTM Family Foundation and the Marshall-Reynolds Foundation.