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Black Excellence In Birding

Saturday, June 1, 2024  
6–10 p.m.

3rd annual Black Excellence in Birding, Skeaker Ball, In support of black birders week

3rd annual Black Excellence in Birding, Skeaker Ball, In support of black birders week

Join the Academy of Natural Sciences for Black Excellence in Birding: An Evening With Christian Cooper, the culminating event of Black Birders Week 2024! At this annual black-tie gala, and fledgling sneaker ball, meet science writer and editor Christian Cooper, hear stories of his experiences as a birdwatcher and author, and find out how the Central Park Birdwatching incident of 2020 changed the landscape for Black birders throughout the country. Find your Flock as we spotlight members of local birdwatching groups,  explore specimens from our world-class Ornithology Collection and traipse through the rainforest in the Under the Canopy exhibit. Fluff up your plumage for a feathery date night or get your flyest sneakers (see what we did there) and pair them with fancy threads to show out that evening at what is becoming Philadelphia’s newest sneaker ball. Simply sip cocktails and savor delicious appetizers as you enjoy good conversation with fellow Black birders.

Two women sitting on a bench in dinosaur hall.

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.Black Birders Week, Black AF In STEM. The week of events was organized by a group of STEM professionals and students known as the BlackAFinSTEM Collective.

$55 per person/$45 Academy members
Guests must be 21+ to drink and will receive wristbands

About Christian Cooper

Christian Cooper is an New York Times best-selling author, with his debut memoir, "Better Living Through Birding". He is also the Host and a Consulting Producer for National Geographic's hit series: "Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper". Practically born with a pair of binoculars in his hands, he served as president of the Harvard Ornithological Club in his college days. Currently as a vice president of New York City Audubon, he advocates for greater, safer access to green spaces for all, with a focus on outreach to youth in underserved communities. A longtime activist on issues of racial justice and LGBTQ equality, Christian combined his passions in the BLM graphic short story "It’s a Bird” from DC Comics, and he continues to seek synergy at the intersections of storytelling, progressivism, and environmentalism.

A group of well-dressed people post for a photo.

Schedule of Events

Meet, Greet and Learn
6– 8 p.m.

Food and Drinks

Stroll the black carpet to Dinosaur Hall, where you’ll find delicious refreshments, signature drinks and everything you need to know about Black Excellence in Birding. Listen to smooth jazz while you take photos under the T. rex and cozy up to all sorts of avian ancestors.

Two woman posing for a photo in the main lobby of the Academy.

Find your Flock

Visit with partners from local Philly birding groups as they are highlighted in North American Hall. Black Excellence in Birding doesn’t end after the gala, and the best way for folks to stay in the know when it comes to local birding is to find a birding group that speaks to them. Find your flock by learning more about each group and the programs and outings they run throughout the area.

Three well dress people having a discussion in dinosaur hall.

Discover Academy Ornithology

Explore specimens from 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.

A group of people looking at a bird specimen.

Under The Canopy

Travel to the most diverse ecosystem on the planet! Under the Canopy: Animals of the Rainforest is an immersive exhibition introducing you to the fascinating world of rainforests and the animals that inhabit them. Learn about unique plants and rainforest ecology as you encounter a live sloth, boa constrictor and other animals that call these habitats home.

A Conversation With Christian Cooper
8–9 p.m.

Join us for a dynamic conversation between Keynote Speaker, Christian Cooper and Corina Newsome, Conservation Scientist.

Opening Remarks

  • Maurice Baynard, Vice President, Community Learning and Chief Diversity Officer, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Keynote Speaker:

  • Christian Cooper
    NY Times best-selling author, "Better Living Through Birding"
    Host and Consulting Producer, Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper, “National Geographic”


  • Corina Newsome
    Conservation Scientist at the National Wildlife Federation

Dinosaur Hall
9–10 p.m.

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 music will pipe throughout the event spaces. Last call is at 9:45 p.m. 

A woman taking a photo of two women in front of a dinosaur skeleton.

Birding Club Partners

Feminist Bird Club – FBCA logo with birds and text 'Feminist Bird Club'

The Feminist Bird Club was founded in NYC by Molly Adams in 2016 as a way to leverage both their passion for birds and their passion for social justice into a cohesive whole. Since then, the Feminist Bird Club has expanded to chapters across North America and Europe.

Philly Queer BirdersA bird on a round logo with the pride flag with the text 'Philly Queer Birders'

Philly Queer Birders started in March 2021 as a way to create queer community, learn about our feathered friends, and explore all the great birding that Philadelphia has to offer.

We encourage all skill levels to join, even if you have never been birding before! It's important to create LGBTQIA+ spaces in the outdoors, and we strive to make PQB welcoming, accessible, and fun for all those who appreciate birds.

Delaware Valley Ornithological ClubA bird flying with black text 'DVOC'

The Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC) is one of the oldest ornithology organizations in the United States. Founded in 1890, the club has held regular meetings at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia for over 125 years, and has published the periodical Cassinia since 1901.  The DVOC is committed to attracting and engaging a diverse membership as we encourage people of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientation, physical abilities, religions and beliefs and socio-economic or other backgrounds to embrace birding and nature.

In Color Birding ClubIn Color Birding Club

Started in 2021, In Color Birding Club strives to make the birding experience a positive one for BIPOC folks and their allies. Inclusivity and equity go hand in hand. We would like our experiences with the birds, and more importantly with each other, to represent the best of what our communities have to offer. This means that events will break with many of the norms we are used to. We will work with existing venues and locations to bring BIPOC voices and nature lovers into those spaces. We will venture into parks and areas that have been historically underserved in our communities.