Picture of Yellow-crowned night heron taken by Tim Ervin

One of my assigned projects working at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is to list the birds present at the park so that they can be posted onto the parks website. In this process I have listed out every single bird found in the past year at the gardens (194 different species). This has showed me just how vast of a range you will find at the gardens and I’m happy to say I have not been disappointed when going out and birding myself.

My first day present at the park I was able to witness the presence of two Yellow-crowned night herons (a rare sight to see around here) which was a great way to jumpstart my introduction into birding at the park. Since then I have slowly began to become more engrossed in the activity, watching three Red-shouldered Hawks fledge and leave the nest, getting used to seeing an Eastern Phoebe which nests in the parks visitor center every morning when arrive at the park, and in general loving the weekly Tuesday bird walks.

One of the highlights of my birding here thus far has been black birders week. As a black environmentalist it’s known that not only birding events, but events under any environmental topics are often not accessible for black communities. Nor do we see black people given opportunities to run these events themselves. So I was pleased to see many black birders present at the weekly bird walk that took place during black birders week. Hopefully in upcoming years black people will be heading these events whether it’s through the park service or events created by the black community. 

One quote from the day stuck out to me as profound, a black birder who’d attended the walk stating she had found her people. Due to the lack of accessible and accepting spaces for black people in environmental spaces, along with the stigma that black people do not partake in these sorts of events it can be extremely isolating to be an “outdoorsy” black person. Which is simultaneously bad for the individual and horrible for the field as black communities are among the most impacted by environmental issues. So I’m quite pleased this birder was able to find community at Kenilworth and urge all black environmentalists to continue searching for their spaces or attempt to create one themselves!

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