Black Excellence In Birding
A Black Birders Week event
Saturday, May 27, 2023
$45 per person; $40 Academy members, In Color Birding members, African American Museum in Philadelphia members, Drexel employees and students
Tickets will be available at the door
Guests must be 21+ to drink and will receive wristbands.
Join the Academy of Natural Sciences for Black Excellence in Birding, our second annual black-tie Black Birders Week event. Meet some of the country’s most well-known Black birders, go behind the scenes of the Academy to interact with our world-class Ornithology Collection, join the panel discussion on Black women in birding and meet local poets and artists as they share their expressions throughout the night. Tweet an invite to a fellow bird lover, fluff up your plumage for a feathery date night or simply sip cocktails and savor delicious appetizers as you enjoy good conversation with fellow Black birders.
Black Birders Week is a weeklong series of events to highlight Black nature enthusiasts and to increase the visibility of Black birders, who face unique challenges and dangers when engaging in outdoor activities. The event was created as a response to the Central Park birdwatching incident and police brutality against Black Americans. The inaugural event ran from May 31 to June 5, 2020. The week of events was organized by a group of STEM professionals and students known as the BlackAFinSTEM Collective.
Black Excellence in Birding Program
Click here to download the program for the evening.
See photos from last year's event:
Meet, Greet and Learn
Stroll the red carpet to Dinosaur Hall, where you’ll find delicious refreshments, cocktails and everything you need to know about the Black Excellence in Birding event. Listen to smooth jazz while you take photos under the T. rex and cozy up to all sorts of avian ancestors.
Neighborhood Birding with Women In Natural Sciences (WINS)
Meet the incredible participants of the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) program. Learn about their experiences birding in their neighborhoods and see how they use apps like iNaturalist, Merlin and Audobon to help them identify birds and their calls, and to gather data about the birds of Philadelphia.
Throughout the Museum
Engage with two local artists as they create original artwork inspired by birds in the Academy’s dioramas.
- Jerry Puryear: Resident teaching artist and mentor with the Fine Art Through Our Eyes program under the Mill Creek Community Partnership. Puryear’s focus is on telling the personal narrative with an emphasis on healing through expression.
- Erika Acevedo: Mixed media artist from Philadelphia, who strives to promote healing within creation; applied inward it’s healing for self, applied outward it allows healing for others. Acevedo’s focus is on instructing mental health through art therapy and live painting within community.
Improv and spoken word poets will be performing throughout the night, interacting with guests as they mingle and explore the museum.
- Steph Ox: Philly writer, author and poet, as well as best-selling children’s book author
- Biannca Davies: local poet and performer
Ethical Bird Photography
with Anwar Abdul-Qawi, wildlife photographer
Ethical wildlife photography is the practice of being attuned to your surroundings and respecting plants, animals and people while photographing in nature. This presentation will cover ethical techniques in wildlife photography, such as animal calls, baiting, flashing, perches and other methods for getting perfect images while respecting natural habitats. Using real-world examples, we will review proper etiquette for exploring parks, neighborhoods and public areas. The purpose of this presentation isn’t about who is right or wrong — we will engage in thoughtful discourse, exploring various methods used worldwide to make compelling images and limit our footprint on the environment along the way.
Ornithology Collection Tours
5:30, 6, 6:30 p.m.
Go behind the scenes for incredible, one-of-a-kind views of the Academy’s world-renowned Ornithology Collection. Meet Academy scientists and learn how the specimens in the Academy’s collection contribute to scientific research and discovery.
Conversations With 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.
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. Observe specimen preparation by Academy bird scientists and learn more about the institution's Ornithology Collection and its ongoing biodiversity and evolution research.
The exhibition showcases historical and contemporary avian works from our Library and Archives, with a focus on drawing, writing and close observation as ways of knowing birds and the natural world.
Excellent Black Women In Birding
Hear real-life experiences of birding while Black in the Philadelphia region during this important panel discussion. Discover the stories of local Black birders and ask questions.
Maurice Baynard, Vice President, Community Learning and President’s Strategic Initiatives, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
- Brianna Amingwa
- Katrina Clark
- Tanya Burnett
- Campbell Simmons
Aisha Doucoure - WINS Student
More on the Panelists and Moderator
Teacher by day, and birder by afternoon and weekends. As a pandemic birder, on a walk to get fresh air, she discovered that birds were fascinating when a friend pointed out a catbird on a fence in West Philadelphia. Clark is currently a board member of In Color Birding Club that seeks to ensure that people of color have safe, joyful and rewarding access to green spaces and the practice of birding.
Brianna Amingwa is an environmental education supervisor in Philadelphia, PA. She manages a robust education program that serves nearly 18,000 students annually. Amingwa trains teachers to utilize the outdoor classroom, coordinates partner schools and programming and trains and certifies USA archery instructors. Before moving to Philadelphia, Amingwa worked at multiple, diverse wildlife refuges across the Midwest.
Amingwa graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a specialization in environmental studies. She is originally from the metro Detroit area and grew up living in a big city. Discovering the world of conservation has opened many doors for her, and she now works to do the same for others. She is passionate about sharing nature, science and environmental education with both nature-lovers and “city kids” like herself. She aims to foster strong connections between diverse communities and greenspaces to further conservation and environmental justice.
Tanya Burnett is retired from the financial services industry where she served in various leadership roles including COO and Territory Managing Director. Tanya has always loved the outdoors and fell in love with birding when she stumbled upon her spark bird, a Yellow Warbler, on a hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Within a week, she participated in her first bird walk. And 4 years later, Tanya is now leading bird walks, working with local groups to make the birding community more diverse and welcoming, competing in birding competitions and getting close to her 2023 goal of hitting one thousand life bird species.
Cam Simmons is a San Francisco born birder and Philly resident. When they were 11 years old they became captivated by the Scrub Jays and Anna’s Hummingbirds in their backyard. They picked up a National Geographic field guide to birds and haven’t put it down since. This lifelong interest influenced their decision to study environmental studies and eventually pursue a career in the environmental movement. As the Resilient Communities and Policy Associate at River Network they help river adjacent communities on the front lines of climate change access federal funding and build sustainable relationships to the rivers in their communities.
My name is Aisha Doucoure, and I am a Junior in WINS, attending Philadelphia High School for Girls. Being a Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) participant has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, find interests that I never thought of doing, and fostered my confidence to do new things and love science without being frowned upon. One of these interests is exploring nature. Through WINS not only have I been able to explore nature in my backyard, but I’ve also been able to explore all around Philadelphia and the surrounding area, and I’ve even been given the chance to explore nature in Tucson, Arizona. Without WINS I would have never thought I could enjoy going out on hikes and being outside in general because for many it’s not something that girls and women typically do.
In addition to creating a love for nature, WINS has given me the confidence to break barriers and do things seen as out of the ordinary. Being an African American female interested in STEM is often looked down upon because it’s male-dominated, and before WINS I was not quite sure if a job in STEM was for me. Thankfully WINS has not only proved to me that the STEM industry is the perfect place for me, but I also now know that regardless of any adversities I may face the STEM industry is where I belong just as much as anyone else does.
A tertulia is a gathering in which people come together for enjoyable sociable discussions on cultural subject matters and current affairs over food and drink. Join us in Dinosaur Hall to mingle and chat after the panel discussion. Photo ops will be aplenty and jazz music will pipe throughout the event spaces. Last call is at 8:45 p.m.
Special Thanks to In Color Birding