BIPOC Birding Club Creates Safe Spaces for All Bird Enthusiasts of Wisconsin

Bird City

On Earth Day, people come to celebrate the earth and all it has to offer, and for a place like Milwaukee, the outdoors is enjoyed year-round. The city is recognized as a Bird City and has held the title since 2012.

Situated on the west coast of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is in the middle of the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory bird route used by hundreds of species as they travel through the year.

The city’s lakefront, wooded parks, and rivers have been popular spots for bird-watchers and birds alike. 

Birding for All

The BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin (Picture by Joe Janssen)
The BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin (Picture by Joe Janssen)

When it comes to outdoor activities BIPOC communities are overcoming years of discrimination and segregation of greenspaces. Organizations such as the BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin are working to change the narrative of who enjoys nature. 

The club was created by Dr. Jeff Galligan and Dexter Patterson in 2021. They intended to create safe spaces for people of color in the outdoors through outdoor birding activities and events for all ages.

Rita Flores Wiskowski is the Milwaukee area coordinator for the club and believes in the mission of creating birding as an inclusive and accessible hobby.

“We’re showing that they’re people like us everywhere,” said Wiskowski. “ We want to make things safe and comfortable and sometimes that includes having people that look like them in birding.”

The club has two chapters, one based in Milwaukee and the other in Madison. To get people involved with birding the club offers a variety of events and classes such as Birding 101, birding by Boat, and Black Birders Week.

The BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin is open to all interested in the hobby.

Raising Voices

Wiskowski says that as people begin to partake in hobbies outdoors and enjoy green spaces provided in the city, the more outspoken they seem to become about conservation efforts and protecting wildlife.

“[Conservation], It’s important to the world of birding and for people,” said Wiskowski. “There are lots of ways to get your voice known, and there are more people out there whose voices haven’t been heard yet.”

Wiskowksi encourages everyone interested to check out the club and what birding has to offer to the community and for personal health and growth. 

“ We see amazing things here and it’s for anybody to join as long as they believe in the mission,” said Wiskowski. 

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

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