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Meet Molly Adams and Sydney Anderson, Authors of "The Feminist Bird Club's Birding for a Better World"

September 13, 2023

Artist Profile: Greg Kozatec

JUNE 7, 2021

Meet the Birders: Flynn Murray & Willow Noir

June 21, 2023

Meet Molly Adams and Sydney Anderson, Authors of "The Feminist Bird Club's Birding for a Better World"

September 13, 2023

We’re excited about the new book "The Feminist Bird Club’s Birding for a Better World," and talked with authors Molly Adams and Sydney Golden about birds, community, and life transitions.

Molly Adams (she/they) is the founder of the Feminist Bird Club (FBC). She lives in the Catskill Mountains with her spouse, their cat Rocky, and dog Shelly. Molly’s spark birds are the Waved Albatross and Surf Scoter.

Sydney Anderson (she/her) is a maker, grower, and friend of pollinators who can make a perfect soft-boiled egg. Formerly a chapter leader for FBC Chicago, Sydney is the senior community habitat coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. She lives in the Colorado foothills with her cat, and her favorite birds are Bufflehead.

Can you share a story about a Feminist Bird Club outing that made a lasting impression on you? For example, was there something that surprised you or helped you connect with others? Something that gave you a new way of thinking about what community is or means?

Sydney: Feminist Bird Club means so many things to so many people. I consider myself so fortunate to have found community with the Chicago chapter right before the pandemic hit in the late fall of 2019. Alongside my FBC co-leaders, I spent the majority of my first year organizing mutual aid fundraisers and strategic planning for the kinds of events we wanted to lead, the kind of chapter we wanted to be, when in-person engagement resumed after it was safe enough to do so. I remember our first in-person event after about a year of pandemic-living was such a joyful time for everyone involved. About 30 people showed up to the event – we gathered in Jackson Park for spring migration, freshly vaccinated, masked and distanced, and we saw 25 or 30 species. So many warblers! Indigo Buntings! Eastern Towhees! American Coots! The whole lot. I’ll always remember how much it felt like we needed each other – companionship, friendship, nature, birds – after such a long period of social isolation.

Molly: This is difficult for me because there are so many memorable FBC moments that have me smiling from ear to ear where I either met or got to spend time with some of my favorite people! One event that really stands out to me was a special partnership trip between FBC NYC, Ramapough Lenape Nation, and Bergen County Audubon, organized by Purbita Saha. I think it was the first trip for the NYC chapter that involved driving to a different state, and it was heartwarming and surprising to see over 20 people show up to the event.

Two Clouds, the leader of the event, welcomed all of us to Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp and throughout the walk he wove together stories from the Ramapough Lenape Nation about birds we saw, like the Pileated Woodpecker, and the landscape, and issues they were facing regarding sovereignty and discrimination surrounding the proposed “Pilgrim Pipeline” that would have run through their lands. It really made me consider what it means to be in solidarity with local Indigenous people and water protectors everywhere.

You both have spent a lot of time birding and building your birding communities in big cities. In recent years, you’ve both moved to new places—places quite different from metropolises like NYC and Chicago. How has that transition been for you? How have your relationships with nature, birds, and your birding communities changed?

Molly: My move mostly out of NYC and into the Catskills in New York has been very supportive to healing. Shortly after moving I developed long-covid, and having space to slow down and rest has been a blessing and a privilege. Since I’m unable to drive or walk long distances, having access to a deck and yard where warblers and robins visit has allowed me to connect to birds in new ways. I have been participating in the New York Breeding Bird Atlas as much as possible, and it has been delightful stumbling upon several areas within 10 miles of my home where woodcocks breed!

I miss having the energy and access to waking up before work and walking to Prospect Park during spring migration, and then stopping in Coney Island Creek Park the same day after work. With long-covid those days are long over. More than anything, I miss being able to hop on the subway to meet up with friends to go birding multiple days a week, but now that those opportunities are much less frequent, they are often that much more meaningful. One trade-off that comforts me is being able to hear a barred owl family from my bedroom window several nights a week.

Sydney: What I miss most about being in Chicago is birding in city parks along Lake Michigan, crossing paths with other city-dwelling birders and exchanging locations for exciting sightings. Birding for me is a much more isolated experience now, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I also love being alone in nature. But I’m looking forward to connecting with the Denver Front Range chapter of FBC for fall migration and developing a new birding community!

Your book includes several journal prompts which encourage reflection and action in your readers. We especially love this one: 

Locate yourself within the complex network of life. Where are you? Who came before you? Who are your teachers, human and nonhuman?

Can you share your own journal entry for this?


[text only transcribed from journal, roughly clockwise from center]: Molly – Catskills – Mohican, Haudenosaunee + Schaghticoke peoples – Brooklyn + Queens, NYC – Indigo buntings – whooping cranes – Meghadeepa – Tammah – Alan Watts – Robin Wall Kimmerer – Alexis Pauline Gumbs – Christopher Jensen – Mariame Kaba – AFIAAR – Peter Nekola – Mark Dion – Humpback Whales – Orcas – Spinner dolphins – my dreams – sand hill cranes – E. O. Wilson – Nightjars + Woodcocks – Feminist Bird Club – Purbita – Martha – Jim – Rob – Jose – Jen – painted bunting – Coney Island Creek – Kellie – Brooklyn Bird Club – Semipalmated Sandpipers – NYC Audubon - Chris – Sean – Sydney – Alyssa – Akilah – Jeana – Haley – Red-tailed Hawks – Ryan – Britt -Chelsea – Jeff – Karla – Frances – Wendy – Kas – Brooks – Rabbit – Bex – Bridgit – Divya – Hawk Mountain – Georgia – Katina – Yellow warblers – Spotted Sandpiper – Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp – Pileated Woodpecker – Two Clouds – Water protectors – Horseshoe crabs – whelk snails – bay scallops – South Fork Natural History Museum – Shinnecock Nation – Long Island NY – Nana – Dad – Mom – my family – Corey – Quogue Wildlife Refuge – Red fox – Eastern Screech Owl – Bald eagle – ducks – piping plovers + terns – Shelly + Rocky – All the trout + other fish I’ve met – Every river, stream, lake, and ocean I’ve been in – All moths, mosses + mushrooms!


[transcribed from journal]: I reside on the ancestral lands of the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne peoples, in what is now known as Golden, CO. I am a gues on this land, borrowing the mountains and the waters from future generations. I am descendant of survivors, and artists, and mothers who did their best.

My nana makes the most beautiful quilts, all sewn by hand. She teaches me patience, and resilience, and stillness. She taught me how to fish, on that beautiful lake in Texas where she lived for many years. She’s still in Texas, but she no longer fishes. I’m in Colorado, learning from the trout in the clear mountain streams, trying to carry on what my nana gave me.

What's next for you and birds? You and the Feminist Bird Club?

Sydney: I moved to Colorado earlier this year, so I’m still learning my Western birds. I just saw my first American Dipper last weekend, which was amazing! I’m a little burned out after writing and publishing the FBC book, so I’m currently taking a break from leading events. But I’m so excited to just be part of the FBC community as a participant and to cheer on my friends in leadership from the sidelines!

Molly: Recently, FBC had some new members join our board of directors so we are currently in an exciting transitional phase. My board role has shifted slightly from Director of Partnerships and Design to Director of Design, so I plan to focus my energy on things like the 2024 patch design and supporting new board members.

As a grassroots non-profit without any paid staff or very much experience dealing with the logistics of running a non-profit, we hope to develop these skills over the next few years so that we can efficiently distribute funds and support to all the chapters.

I am also looking forward to upcoming book launch events, in NY, virtual, and ones led by other chapters. It has been wonderful to celebrate alongside so many people who make the Feminist Bird Club possible.

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