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What is Celebrate Urban Birds all about?

2012 February 20
by Marta del Campo and Seth Inman

Are you curious? Do you think it’s about dancing, singing, painting, and having fun with family and friends? Actually, you’re pretty close! The “Celebrate” part is clear—it involves sharing joy and art with people you enjoy being with.


Photo By Zac Patherson, NY

What about the “Birds”? Well, Celebrate Urban Birds’ main purpose is to get people—generally those who don’t have much free time, or haven’t been exposed to the wonders of nature—involved and connected with the living environment around them. But all are welcome! Experiencing a connection with nature is actually pretty easy. You can start by just watching birds in your neighborhood, local park, or school.  You only need to watch for 10 minutes, and share your observations with us. You can repeat these simple steps as many times as you like, and if you get bored of the same place, you can always go watch somewhere else! Over time, you begin to notice the trees, flowers, and animals that surround you and which you may have not noticed before. With this new awareness, you realize that you don’t have to go that far to enjoy nature. Day by day, you begin to appreciate your environment more, thanks in part to the birds that live close to you.


Photo by E. W. Galloway, FL

We still have to talk about the “Urban” part.  This isn’t about birds in high heels and suits, though it would be funny material for a cartoon! What we mean is that the 16 bird species we chose to study live in urban and suburban areas, not only in the countryside. There aren’t many of these species because they have to adapt to the way we build our houses and cities. Let’s be honest: Buildings, street posts, traffic lights and paved roads aren’t the best places to nest or search for food. We selected species of urban birds that you can find almost all across the country. Even if you don’t know much about birds, you can always start with one or two species, and little by little increase the number until you reach the 16th. The most important part is that you never feel bored or frustrated. We want you to enjoy yourself outside, and breathe the fresh air while observing the wonderful nature around you. The nature you may have not noticed but was just a couple of steps from your door.


Photo by Will Randall, FL

You may be wondering why we choose to focus on birds over other animals—aren’t cockroaches also “nature” in urban areas? Our program is part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which by design is dedicated to the research and conservation of birds. So you can understand if we have an intrinsic bias. Our program in particular is dedicated to teaching anyone interested in learning about birds. However, we are aware that birds wouldn’t survive without plenty of other organisms; the same applies to humans and all other life forms (though we still aren’t too sure about those cockroaches). For this reason, and many others, it’s important that we all connect to nature. If we do so, we could understand it better, take care of it, and have a wonderful planet to inhabit together with other species, and of course, with the beatiful birds to make our mornings more joyous. Watching birds in your neighborhood is your first step toward helping to live in a better world tomorrow, where we all could celebrate with our loved ones. Let’s go!


5 Responses leave one →
  1. March 8, 2012

    Wonderful site!

    • March 8, 2012

      I pressed RSS I would like to have it in XMTL format please

      MD Ray

      • Marta del Campo permalink*
        March 10, 2012

        Hi MD Ray,

        Thank you for your interest and comments! Could you explain what is the “XMTL format”? We were unsure about what you had in mind.
        Best wishes,

  2. Julian Siminski permalink
    July 15, 2015

    I was looking at this article and at the Celebrate Urban Birds website. I follow the Cornell Ornithology page on Facebook and I have never seen anything about this page. I think you’re missing a great advantage to teach Facebook users about urban birds and their plight. I see fewer and fewer urban birds each year here in Los Angeles. Sparrows, for example are almost nonexistent now.

    • Marta del Campo permalink*
      September 8, 2015

      Hi Julian,

      Thank you for your comment. Celebrate Urban Birds has a Facebook page, the reason why we do not overlap that often on our posts with The Lab. You can search for us on Facebook. Anyone is welcome, and it is a public Facebook page.

      Best wishes,


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