These Black nature lovers are busting stereotypes, one cool bird at a time

Updated 8:58 AM ET, Wed June 3, 2020

(CNN)Everyone has the bird.

Corina Newsome calls it a gateway bird, the one special species that sets an avian enthusiast on a lifetime course of discovery and environmental passion. Hers was the blue jay.
For Tykee James, it was the belted kingfisher.
When asked what his favorite bird is, Alex Troutman paused. "Can I give you a top three?" The northern crested caracara. The white ibis. And, of course, the penguin.
These young Black naturalists -- and the birds they love -- are some of the stars of Black Birders Week, a series of events and activities designed to highlight Black scientists, scholars and everyday nature lovers. While spreading their joy and knowledge, the countless people involved in the movement are also raising visibility of Black achievement at a painfully critical time.

A painful event is turned into potential

The event was conceived by a group of Black STEM professionals and students who share an online space they call #BlackAFinSTEM.
    STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the dozens of people in the group hail from all different kinds of disciplines within that sphere.
    But when Christian Cooper, a Black birder in New York City, was threatened by a white woman in Central Park, their focus turned to the avian-minded among them.
    The realities of being a black birdwatcher