Black Birders: Exploring Wild Places and Confronting White Spaces in Ornithology – A Special Plenary at the 2021 WOS Annual Meeting

This year, the Association of Field Ornithologists and Wilson Ornithological Society are holding their joint annual meeting with Eagle Hill Institute at the 2021 Northeast Natural History Conference, 15–18 April.
Monday, 12 April is the last day to register for the #NENHC2021.

Among multiple special events, there will be three special plenary sessions (all times EDT).

  1. Friday, 16 April, 2:00–3:25 pm: Dr. Regina Macedo, Laboratório de Comportamento Animal, Universidade de Brasilia: Leaping to Conclusions: Courtship and Mating System of a Neotropical Bird. Sponsored by the Association of Field Ornithologists.
  2. Saturday, 17 April, 2:00–3:25 pm: Dr. Ellen Ketterson, Distinguished Professor in the Biology Department and Science Advisor and Founding Director of the Environmental Resilience Institute, Indiana University: Long-term Research on an Ordinary Extraordinary Songbird: The Dark-eyed Junco. Dr. Ketterson is the recipient of the Margaret Morse Nice Award, sponsored by the Wilson Ornithological Society.
  3. The Wilson Ornithological Society is also proud to sponsor a third plenary session on Sunday, 18 April, 2:00–4:00 pm. This session will feature four speakers presenting brief remarks on their work, followed by a panel Q&A and mentoring discussion open to all. Please join us for…

Black Birders: Exploring Wild Places and Confronting White Spaces in Ornithology

Despite remaining systemic barriers to participation in ornithological societies and potentially dangerous interactions with people in the places where birds are studied, Black ornithologists, birders, and other nature enthusiasts persevere, and thrive. While their contributions to science, education, and conservation are many, the enduring impact of their pioneering careers and their courage to speak on the challenges they face in predominantly white spaces is transformative and inestimable. In this special session sponsored by the Wilson Ornithological Society, four young Black scholars will speak a bit about their work and the spaces they’ve carved out to do it.

Following brief presentations from our individual speakers, there will be a moderated Q&A panel discussion. We welcome your questions at that time and hope this session will be an invaluable mentoring resource. The session will be moderated by Wilson Ornithological Society 1st Vice-President Tim O’Connell. We are delighted to welcome Jonathan Hall, Juita Martinez, Deja Perkins, and Fidel Atuo as our invited speakers!


Dr. Jonathan Hall holding a condor.

Dr. Jonathan Hall is a conservation ecologist who directs the Wilderness Geography Lab at West Virginia University where he studies California condors and wild food geographies. He is a graduate of Morehouse College, where he earned a B.S. in Biology and THE Ohio State University, where he earned a PhD in ecology. Jonathan’s research practice sits at the intersection of science and social science where he explores environmental problems through the lenses of ecology, Black geographies, and Indigenous geographies.

Deja Perkins out birding.

Deja Perkins is and urban ecologist and the Community Engagement Specialist for Crowd the Tap and the Citizen Science Campus Program at North Carolina State University. She co-hosts the weekly webinar Make it Count Monday that explores multiple citizen science projects with NC State’s partner, SciStarter. Originally from Chicago, IL, Deja holds a B.S. in Environmental Science, Natural Resources and Plant Sciences with a Wildlife Concentration from Tuskegee University, and a M.Sc. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from NC State. A founder of #BlackBirdersWeek that ultimately gave rise to this special session, Deja is passionate about identifying systemic biases in access to wild places and in the citizen science data they generate.

Juita Martinez in front of a Brown Pelican colony.

Juita Martinez is a 4th year environmental and evolutionary biology Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She graduated from Humboldt State University in 2016 (B.S. Zoology). Her current research focuses on Louisiana’s Brown Pelican population, better known as #DinosaurFloofs on her social media pages. Coastal Louisiana has been at the forefront of restoration activity since the 1990s and she aims to better understand the impacts of these human-caused habitat changes on the wildlife that utilize these spaces.

Fidel Atuo out birding.

Dr. Fidel Atuo is an Assistant Professor in Biology at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO. His research focuses on the conservation of globally rare species. Originally from Nigeria, Fidel earned his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Calabar and M.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Jos. His journey into North American ornithology began with an internship at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. For his Ph.D. research at Oklahoma State University (2017), Fidel studied the role of landscape structure on predator-prey interactions. As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fidel studied habitat use of California Spotted Owls.

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About Wilson Ornithological Society

The Wilson Ornithological Society (WOS) is an international scientific society comprising community members who share a curiosity about birds. The WOS produces the quarterly Wilson Journal of Ornithology as the latest iteration of scientific journal publication supported by the Society since 1888. The WOS is committed to providing mentorship to both professional and amateur ornithologists through sponsorship of research, teaching, and conservation. Find us on wilsonsociety.org, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@WilsonOrnithSoc).

1 thought on “Black Birders: Exploring Wild Places and Confronting White Spaces in Ornithology – A Special Plenary at the 2021 WOS Annual Meeting

  1. I am unable to join the virtual meeting of WOS this year. It conflicts with the very few times I am able to work in person with my Avian Biology students in this on-again/off-again COVID semester we are having here. However, this plenary on Black birders and confronting white spaces is hugely important. I think it needs to be made available to all WOS members whether they are registering for the meeting or not. Furthermore, if recorded, I would like to share it with Avian Biology students this semester and my Real Science vs. Reel Science: the Role of Film in Biological Science Debates (as part of my lecture introductions, not as a film) next fall.

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