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Female Bird Day

Help us study and appreciate the most misunderstood birds in North America.

May 27-29, 2023

why females?

“An unconscious bias against female birds is widespread in birding.”

Wise naturalist Kenn Kaufman said it best in his 2018 Audubon essay: As birders and ornithologists, we assume that many female birds are duller, quieter, and less behaviorally complex and interesting than their counterparts. But recent science has exposed the myth behind this idea.

A 2014 study on global avian species reveals that female birdsong is both common and critical in evolution. Recent fieldwork has shown this to be true in passerines like Cerulean Warblers and Red-backed Fairywrens, with the females’ calls serving a unique purpose from the males’.

But we still have a lot of work left to do to change the skew in birding and ornithological practice. Part of that includes growing our literacy around female birds—and that’s where this event comes in. From May 29 to 31, we want you to focus solely on females as you bird under your local shelter-in-place rules. Challenge yourself to use behavior, vocalizations, and other sex-specific clues to ID species. Then tell us about the techniques you used with this simple Google form.

We welcome sexing tips on any species from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii (and yes, that includes House Sparrows).

To get an idea of the information we’re looking for, check out this sample spreadsheet. Your notes and efforts will help us build a library of female-bird knowledge for the public.

Female hairy and downy woodpecker at a seed feeder
Cover photo: Female Black-throated Blue Warbler. Photo by Denis. Above photo: Female Hairy (left) and Downy woodpeckers. Photo by Luke Schobert/Unsplash.

Who We Are

The Galbatrosses are a group of scientists, birders, writers, and conservationists who are connected through the National Audubon Society. They first came together to count feathered females at the 2019 World Series of Birding and are now looking to share the love and nerdiness with the rest of their diverse community.

Logo by Victoria Kaufman

Brooke Bateman (she/her)

Senior Scientist, National Audubon Society
@brookelbateman

Stephanie Beilke (she/her)

Conservation Scientist, Audubon Great Lakes
@4LETTERBIRD

Martha Harbison (they/them)

Senior Network Content Editor, National Audubon Society
@marthaharbison

Purbita Saha (she/her)

Member, Bergen County Audubon Society
@hahabita

Joanna Wu (she/her)

Avian Biologist, National Audubon Society
@joannaxwu


Follow #FemaleBirdDay on social media

Questions??? Email us at galbatrossproject@gmail.com