Building a queer-friendly community of bird-watchers

Philly Queer Birders
Photo credit Philly Queer Birders
By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Bird-watching has become a popular hobby during the pandemic — it requires little gear, and being outdoors, it’s COVID-safe. And for Elise Greenberg, the activity has spawned a new community.

She started a group called Philly Queer Birders a year ago.

“We are a group of people who enjoy birding, people who are enthusiastic about birds, people who consider themselves birders or maybe just like nature,” she explained. “We go out a couple of times a month to create queer community in and around Philadelphia, to connect with new friends, maybe see some old friends, and to learn about birds together and to get outside and to enjoy birds in nature.”

Throughout the pandemic, there has been a movement to build more diversity in birding, a hobby that has traditionally been occupied by older white men.

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Greenberg said the perks of nature are for everyone.

“The space [is] very inclusive of people who have never been birding before, inclusive of people who haven’t heard [of it] before and want to share their knowledge, and in a way that acknowledges the queer experience and centers queer people’s knowledge,” she said.

“It’s a great way to make friends if we regularly get a lot of people out, and I think when people see that, they’re like, ‘Oh, maybe I should check that out.’ So it’s kind of this lovely, positive cycle.”

Philly Queer Birders hosts meetups a couple of times a month in local bird hangouts, like the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and FDR Park.

“We also do stationery birding outings,” Greenberg added. “Rather than walking, we’ll take a little sit. It’s great to be accessible for people with disabilities in that way. So we try to offer something for everybody, and anybody who aligns with our values is welcome to come.”

The group is beginner-friendly and welcomes any and all who love birds and share similar values centering on experiences of the LGBTQ community.

“If you don’t have a pair of binoculars, we almost always have enough for everybody who doesn’t,” Greenberg encouraged.

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