Birding is a fast-growing hobby. Millions of birders and birdwatchers worldwide are picking up binoculars, flipping through field guides, filling bird feeders, logging into birding apps, and cleaning bird baths every day. But what influential birders have driven this passion and guided new birders to discover all sorts of feathered fun?
Today’s most influential birders are more than just avian experts. They’re inspirational leaders, helping to direct not just a love of birds, but a passion for bird conservation, inclusivity in birding, and so much more.
What Being an Influencer Means in Birding
In today’s culture of social media, outreach, and interconnection, being a birding influencer means being a well-known name, one who is an acknowledged expert on birds. But it’s more than just expertise – the most influential birders are also reaching others in many ways, through books, magazines, and blogs as well as social media, speaking engagements, guided tours, classes, and more. Birders who share their love of birds and teach others about birding have the ability to influence a huge flock of followers.
See also: A Beginner’s Guide to Birding
The Most Influential Birders Today
Many different birders, naturalists, and conservationists are well-known in the birding world and are actively involved in promoting birding. Among the top influencers in birding circles are…
Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
A dynamic duo of the birding world, these two passionate birders are the heart and soul of the Kaufman field guide series as well as a number of other birding and nature-oriented books. They are often featured as speakers at birding and nature festivals and help lead the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in northern Ohio, home to one of the most popular birding festivals in the country, the Biggest Week in American Birding. Both Kenn and Kimberly often work with young birders and they support many different avenues of birding inclusivity.
David Allen Sibley
A renowned nature artist and bird illustrator, David Allen Sibley is the art behind the Sibley Guide to Birds and a variety of other field guides and books. His passion comes through in each line of his amazing artwork, and he not only shares it in books, but also through art exhibits, birding apps, and regular magazine contributions. David is active on social media and regularly engages with his followers, encouraging birders of all experience levels to enjoy the wonderment of birds and nature.
The fierce and feisty “Birdchick” has a rock star vibe, always willing to help anyone discover more joy and wonder about all things feathered, not to mentioned scaled, furred, and armored. Sharon works as a National Park Ranger, is a popular naturalist radio personality, and has written a number of books and articles about birds and nature. She is a popular speaker at birding festivals and regularly leads birding walks and tours, and always with enthusiasm for every bird and critter she encounters.
Blending technology, photography, and birding into innovative guides that showcase not just a bird but its entire habitat, behavior, and activities in glorious composite shots, Richard Crossley has changed the face of birding field guides and brought birding to life for many birders and nature lovers. His international acclaim makes him a popular speaker at birding festivals. He leads tours and shares photography tips for birders interested in capturing the birds they see.
A recipient of many awards from prestigious birding organizations, Laura is a well-respected author of many birding books as well as her own popular blog. She has been a featured guest at birding festivals and on radio podcasts, and has been a birding guide, photographer, and rehabilitator. She brings that diverse array of experience to every birder she meets, sharing her wisdom, insights, and expertise to anyone interested in birds and nature.
Don and Lillian Stokes
Another power couple in the world of birding, Don and Lillian are the authors of one of the most comprehensive bird field guides of North America, as well as many regional and specialty guides. They are often guest speakers at key birding events, and have helped design a prominent line of popular bird feeders and birdseed. They stress protection and conservation of the birds, as well as cooperation rather than competition between birders so everyone can share their love of birds.
An avid gardener and naturalist, Sally’s down home wisdom and practical approach comes across in all her books, as well as magazine articles and every speaking engagement she headlines. She strikes a balance for all wildlife in the backyard and welcomes all birds to her home, just as she welcomes engagements with all types of birders, from beginners to experts. Her enthusiasm is irresistible, and she’s always willing to help both birds and birders.
While few celebrities are intense birders or dedicated ornithologists, those who do have an interest in birdwatching, conservation, and nature in general have great potential to influence interest in birds and birding. For example, Sean Bean – known to Game of Thrones fans as Eddard Stark – is a keen birder, and Robert Picardo – of Star Trek: Voyager fame and a variety of other television roles – also enjoys birding. Author Jonathan Franzen, actress Cameron Diaz, and even Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, all enjoy birds and birding.
While they may not be outspoken influencers on a global scale, local bird tour guides have an amazing affect on everyone they reach. These tireless bird advocates share their passion with every walk they lead, often going above and beyond to share extraordinary experiences with their guests.
They are not only knowledgeable about local birds, but also about the best birding hotspots and hidden gems where endemic or rare birds can be seen. Yet they are also amazing conservationists, seeking to educate every group they guide about not only how unique and interesting birds are, but about how to protect them and just how important birds are to everyone.
The Most Influential Birder of All
There is one birder who can have the most influence of all, but is often the most overlooked – you. You can have more influence on your family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances than you realize, and you can share your passion for birds every day, in countless ways.
While being aggressive or overbearing will win few converts, showing the joy you get from birds and gently teaching and encouraging others to embrace nature in a friendly, thoughtful way can create a grassroots appreciation of birds.
Through many small steps and even small efforts from more people, great strides can be made in bird protection and conservation, so even more people can become influential birders all over the world.