The International Feminist Club Bringing Birding to Everyone

Birdwatching has long been a male-dominated hobby. The International Feminist Club is working to change that by making birding more accessible and inclusive for all. As an international organization with chapters across the globe, The International Feminist Club is uniquely positioned to bring women and minorities into the birding community.

A Brief History of Birding’s Exclusivity

Birding has not always been a welcoming space for women and minorities. Let’s take a look at some of the historical barriers that have made birding seem like an exclusive club:

  • Male-dominated – Since the early days of birdwatching, most prominent naturalists and ornithologists have been men. This created an assumption that birding was a “male” hobby.
  • Lack of representation – Books, magazines, and other media portrayed birding as a solitary male pursuit. There were few role models for aspiring female birders.
  • Old boy’s club mentality – Some birding groups and events catered mostly to older white men. Newcomers who didn’t fit that mold felt excluded.
  • Field equipment designed for men – Binoculars, spotting scopes, and field bags were often too large or awkward for smaller frames. This made it harder for women to comfortably enjoy birding.

The International Feminist Club aims to break down these barriers that have historically made birding uninviting for broad participation.

How The Feminist Club Is Broadening Birding

The International Feminist Club utilizes several strategies to make the birding community more inclusive:

Education and Mentorship

  • Free birding classes geared towards beginners
  • Seminars on bird identification and research
  • Field trips led by experienced female birders
  • Connecting novice birders with mentors
  • Tips for finding local birding groups and events

By offering more educational resources, The Feminist Club helps new birders gain skills and confidence in a supportive environment. Mentorship from veteran female birders provides inspiration and encouragement.

Creating Community

  • Local chapters for meeting other women/minority birders
  • Larger meetups and conferences
  • Private Facebook groups and other online forums
  • Partnerships with diverse conservation organizations
  • Family-friendly events that appeal to mothers and kids

The club brings women and minorities together to create a sense of community around birding. This provides a place to share challenges, ask questions, and build relationships – helping traditionally underrepresented groups feel welcomed.

Gear and Technology

  • Recommendations for beginner-friendly, affordable optics
  • Advice for finding properly fitting outdoor apparel
  • Reviews of easy-to-use field guide apps and software
  • Workshops on bird photography and digiscoping techniques

The club helps new birders select gear and tech that enhances the birding experience. Recommendations suited for women and beginners make it more comfortable and convenient to get started.

Promoting Diversity

  • Feature stories on inspiring women/minority birders
  • Spotlights on diverse conservation leaders and scientists
  • Calls for greater representation in the birding world
  • Partnerships with causes like Black Birders Week
  • Scholarships for birding camps and conferences

The International Feminist Club highlights role models and advocates for broader diversity in an effort to reshape public perception of what a birder looks like. This helps normalize and celebrate birding within all communities.

By taking an active approach on multiple fronts, The International Feminist Club is effectively addressing the obstacles that have historically made birding seem intimidating or exclusive.

Expanding Beginner Birding Resources

In addition to its education and community-building efforts, The International Feminist Club provides a wealth of resources aimed at aspiring women birders. Let’s look at some of the top resources for those just getting started:

Beginner Field Guides

Field guides are essential tools for identifying birds. The club recommends the following field guides for first-time birders:

  • The Sibley Guide to Birds – Comprehensive but user-friendly, this is one of the best guides for beginners. Covers over 810 North American species.
  • National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America – A great portable and affordable option. Suited for new birders.
  • Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America – Long-trusted guide with useful comparison charts. Good for novices.
  • * Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America* – Packed with helpful tips and information. Very accessible for beginners.
  • iNaturalist app – Free smartphone app for identifying birds in the field. Can suggest bird species based on location/date. Helpful tool for newcomers.

Having a good field guide is key for identifying all the new birds you’ll encounter when starting out. The club’s top picks are all well-suited for first-timers.

Binoculars and Gear

Binoculars are another must-have. But with so many options, it can be tricky to choose the right pair. The International Feminist Club suggests these picks for beginners:

  • Nikon Monarch M5 8×42 – Ideal balance of price and quality. Durable, good image brightness/clarity.
  • Celestron Nature DX 8×42 – Affordable. Good for small hands. Nice wide field of view.
  • Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 – Lightweight. Outstanding optics for the price.
  • Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 – Easy to focus. Clear, bright images. Great value.
  • Athlon Midas 8×42 ED – Waterproof. Good eye relief. Nice carry case included.

When it comes to birding gear like binoculars, packs, and clothing, the club helps steer women towards products designed with female frames in mind. This makes birding much more comfortable for newcomers.

Local Birding Hotspots

To maximize your chances of finding birds, it helps to know where to look. Some prime spots for beginner birders:

  • Parks with a mix of open fields, woods, and water features. Birds congregate where different habitats meet.
  • Reserves or protected wetlands areas. Ideal for spotting waterfowl and wading birds.
  • Active feeders in backyard gardens. You can observe common feeder birds up close.
  • Lakes, ponds, rivers. Shorelines offer sightings of gulls, terns, herons, egrets and more.
  • Forest edges. Scan treetops for warblers, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other woodland species.

The club connects new birders with great local birdwatching sites based on location. This “insider knowledge” helps newcomers maximize their chances of spotting birds.

Beginner Birding Tips

Some helpful tips for those embarking on their birdwatching journeys:

  • Start by learning 10-15 common backyard birds. Become familiar with them before tackling all 800+ North American species.
  • Pack light binoculars, a small field guide, notebook and pen for jotting notes. Overloading your pack can get tiring.
  • Rise early – the mornings are best for bird activity. But some species are active at dusk too.
  • Walk slowly, pause frequently, for scanning with binoculars. Good observation takes patience.
  • Use your ears too! Learn some common bird songs and calls. This will lead you to more species.
  • Join local bird walks or Audubon events. Guided outings are fun and you’ll benefit from experienced birders.
  • Invest in good walking shoes, raingear, hats, and layers. Being prepared makes birding more enjoyable.
  • above all, have fun! Don’t worry about identifying every bird. There’s no test. Move at your own pace and enjoy the beauty of nature.

The International Feminist Club provides all kinds of tips and advice to help women feel empowered, prepared, and equipped to succeed when first getting into birdwatching.

Spotlight: Black Birders Week

One of the most exciting diversity initiatives in birding is Black Birders Week. This annual event aims to highlight, celebrate, and increase the visibility of Black birders.

The campaign was launched in 2020 by Corina Newsome, an ornithologist who co-created the initiative alongside Georgia birder Jason Ward. It began as a social media campaign under the hashtag #BlackBirdersWeek, with the goal of creating community among Black nature enthusiasts while also revealing the racism and barriers that they frequently face in the outdoors.

Some key activities and goals of Black Birders Week include:

  • Spotlighting Black birders and scientists – Social media highlights Black role models in ornithology and conservation. This inspires future generations to follow similar career paths.
  • Nature walks and gatherings – In-person and virtual birding meetups strengthen community while encouraging broader participation in the outdoors.
  • Conversations on access, discrimination – Discussions bring issues to the forefront, allowing organizations to better support diversity in their ranks.
  • Outreach and education – Social campaigns, classroom visits, and educational materials engage new audiences in birding and outdoor activities.

The International Feminist Club actively promotes and partners with Black Birders Week each year. This amplifies the campaign’s messaging and reach, while allowing the club to show solidarity and allyship.

While Black Birders Week began as an effort to increase Black representation in birding, its mission aligns closely with The International Feminist Club’s goals of building a more diverse, inclusive birding community.

The club frequently highlights Black Birders Week on its blog and social channels. Many local chapters also organize special events and bird walks in conjunction with the campaign. Moving forward, The International Feminist Club will continue working to grow engagement and momentum for this vital initiative.

Birdwatching for Families

In addition to programs for women, The International Feminist Club also aims to make birdwatching more welcoming for families. Nature outings can foster children’s curiosity and respect for the environment, while strengthening family bonds.

Here are some ways The Club strives to make birding fun and educational for kids and parents alike:

Family Birding Backpacks

The club’s family birding backpacks contain kid-friendly tools for exploring the outdoors, including:

  • Child-sized binoculars
  • “I Spy Birds” booklet
  • Birdwatching bingo game
  • Bird puppets
  • Nature-themed snacks
  • Beginner field guide

Equipping children with their own gear and activities helps them actively participate and stay engaged.

Guided Family Bird Walks

On these naturalist-led outings, kids can use the backpacks to spot and identify birds. The walks move at a kid-friendly pace, with hands-on learning about birds, habitat, and conservation.

Nest Box Building Workshops

At these workshops, families construct bird nest boxes together. Kids can not only birdwatch, but also help provide habitat. Erecting the nest boxes also provides chances to monitor bird reproduction and development.

Kids Birding Book Club

This monthly virtual book club helps instill a passion for nature and science through fiction and nonfiction books about birds, conservation, and the environment. Discussion questions and activities engage families in the themes.

Family Birding Festival

This annual festival includes live raptor shows, bird banding demos, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, food, and kid-friendly entertainment – all centered around the theme of birds and nature.

The International Feminist Club works to create opportunities for parents and children to bond while learning about birds and the outdoors. Nurturing this curiosity can inspire a lifelong passion for nature.

Overcoming Challenges for Minority Birders

While broadening diversity is crucial for the future of birding, minority groups still face barriers to participation. The International Feminist Club strives to address the unique challenges.

Unconscious Bias

Even well-meaning people may hold unconscious assumptions and exhibit subtle behaviors that alienate minorities in birding spaces. The club calls attention to these issues and provides anti-bias training.

Lack of Representation

Without seeing diversity reflected in the media, minorities may feel birding isn’t for them. The club highlights role models and pushes for more representative imagery.

Cultural Perceptions

In some communities of color, past exclusions and racial barriers have created a perception that activities like birdwatching are only for white people. Outreach helps dispel this myth.

Access to Nature Areas

Due to factors like discrimination and income inequality, minorities have historically had less access to wilderness spaces. The club works to improve safe access.

Racial Profiling and Bias Incidents

Black birders have reported incidents of being questioned or harassed when birding, simply for their skin color. The club advocates for positive change in policy and attitudes.

By giving minorities a platform to share their experiences, The International Feminist Club identifies areas for progress, allowing birding to become more inclusive.

Birding Abroad: Expanding Global Partnerships

Though founded in the United States, The International Feminist Club has expanded to build partnerships with grassroots conservation organizations around the globe.

Some of the club’s initiatives include:


  • Worked with local groups to install bird feeders and nest boxes in schools, exposing Kenyan youth to bird ecology.
  • Led birdwatching outings aimed at rural women, who have limited opportunity to participate in nature activities.


  • Partnered with Amazonian guides to create birding tours specifically for women. This provides income opportunities for female guides and support staff.
  • Offered optics and field guides to women in remote villages to allow them to participate in surveying Amazonian species.


  • Collaborated with NParks to produce birding publications highlighting female birders across diverse Singaporean cultural groups.
  • Helped organize Jane Goodall’s visit to speak with Singaporean youth about conservation.


  • Teamed with Aboriginal Rangers to provide binoculars and field training for indigenous female trainees, to equip them for conservation work.

The club constantly seeks to develop new global relationships focused on expanding access, opportunity, and representation in birding and ornithology.

Moving Forward

While substantial progress has been made towards diversity and inclusion in birding, there is still work to be done. As we move forward, The International Feminist Club will continue efforts in the following areas:

  • Improve accessibility of events, activities, and information for those with disabilities
  • Build alliances with LGBTQIA+ outdoor groups to create safer and more welcoming birding spaces
  • Expand mental health resources to address nature deprivation and build resilience
  • Partner with tribal nations to increase Indigenous leadership in conservation
  • Collaborate on diversity initiatives for overlooked groups including religious and ethnic minorities
  • Offer more scholarships, gear donations, and funding to break down financial barriers
  • Advocate for diverse representation across birding organizations and media

By listening to marginalized voices and focusing on intersectionality, The International Feminist Club can move closer to the goal of making birding inclusive and empowering for all.

The International Feminist Club’s work has transformed birding for many women, families, and minorities. But this is just the beginning. With continued effort, birding can become a community that reflects the diversity of nature itself – inviting people from all walks of life to connect with birds and the natural world.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did The International Feminist Club get started?

The International Feminist Club began in the 1990s when a group of female scientists, researchers and birding guides came together to discuss challenges for women in ornithology and birdwatching. They decided to launch an organization aimed at expanding opportunities and visibility for women in birding.

Does The Feminist Club offer scholarships or financial aid?

Yes! The club provides scholarships and travel stipends to young women, non-binary youth, and people of color interested in pursuing bird studies or conservation careers. They also offer financial assistance to access camps and conferences.

Can men join The International Feminist Club?

Absolutely. While founded by women, and focused on diversity, the club welcomes male allies who support the mission of inclusion. Many men serve as mentors, naturalist trip leaders, and donors for the organization.

How does The Feminist Club help women feel safer when birding alone?

In addition to group birding activities, the club also provides resources on birding safely as a solo woman. Tips cover situational awareness, self defense courses, using social media to share your location, and more.

Does the club offer any programs focused on LBGTQ+ birders?

Yes, The Feminist Club partners with organizations like Out for Birds to run events tailored for LBGTQ+ participants during Gay Birders Week. They also connect LBGTQ+ youth with scholarships and mentors in ornithology.

What’s the best way to find my local chapter and get involved?

Check out the Local Chapters section of The International Feminist Club’s website. You can search for local groups near you, and find info on upcoming meetings and birding activities. New members are always welcome!


The International Feminist Club has played a vital role in championing diversity and inclusion within the birding community. By breaking down barriers facing women, families, and minorities, their efforts help ensure that all who wish to enjoy birding feel welcomed and empowered to participate.

There is still work to be done, but the club provides a model of how shared passion, education, outreach and advocacy can transform a hobby into a more equitable and accessible space. By continuing to lead by example, listen to marginalized voices, and build global partnerships, The International Feminist Club will bring us steps closer to a world where everyone feels connected to the liberating lens of a pair of binoculars.