Documenting diversity (or lack thereof)

When many of us go birding, part of our goal is to document the diversity of birds around us.  Often, that means keeping a list of birds seen – a life list, a year list, a state list, a yard list.  For instance, thanks to the eBird app, I  know exactly how many species I recorded while atlasing this morning (67 … and another northeastern Connecticut block busted!).  Indeed, the work of the atlas is largely focused around documenting the diversity of the state’s birds and how it is changing – as reflected by the map showing the number of species reported so far in each atlas block in yesterday’s post.

As many have pointed out before, given our focus on avian diversity, it is therefore a sad irony that there is not more diversity in the birding community.  I can’t say much about the diversity of the people working on the atlas, which is an appalling admission in itself, but I do know that I’m struggling to make even a very short list of people who are not white. Last week was #BlackBirdersWeek – a series of events designed to highlight these issues and the barriers to more inclusive engagement with birding. If you missed the discussion, or (like me) are lucky enough to lack the direct experience to truly understand the extent of the problem, a good place to start is this discussion among a host of emerging leaders in the birding community.

As we move forward with the atlas, our work will be centered on the birds. But, hopefully, we will also take the time to listen more, and think about all the things we could be doing to encourage a more diverse birding community.