In celebration of the third annual Black Birders Week, Daniel J. Middleton, an author and illustrator who focuses on Black history, has released a new biography coloring book aimed at adults titled 12 Modern Black Birders. In it, he presents 12 ready-to-color portraits that sit across from short profiles of enthusiasts and professionals in the birding community, including conservationists, biologists, activists, and an artist.
Middleton reached out to several birders who agreed to interviews and supplied reference materials for the original artwork featured in the book. Among them are Tykee James, Corina Newsome, Nicole Jackson, Danielle Belleny, Alex Troutman, Mamie Parker, J. Drew Lanham, and others.
Included in each illustration is a bird deemed relevant to the featured birder, some being spark birds. The biographies also describe the early days of each subject and their career highlights and influences. One featured birder, Christian Cooper (who was not interviewed), was the catalyst for the inaugural Black Birders Week back in 2020. He recorded the infamous Central Park incident in which a white woman attempted to weaponize the police against him following a confrontation resulting from her unleashed dog. Middleton presents that story as well as Christian Cooper’s introduction to birding during his childhood.
Middleton’s books chronicle the perseverance of Black trailblazers in many walks of life. Along with detailed articles, he also illustrates coloring pages and creates interactive Black history activities based on the articles for adults to engage with. He plans to release several titles each year, all focusing on Black history and culture.
“It was an honor to speak with enthusiasts in the birding community who are African American,” Middleton said. “That representation is important because a lot of minorities in urban spaces are somewhat disconnected from nature simply because so few people of color represent them in that field. Thankfully, that is starting to change.”
Learn more about 12 Modern Black Birders at Middleton’s website, uniquecoloring.com.
12 Modern Black Birders, by Daniel J. Middleton (author & illustrator), Unique Coloring, May 29, 2022, paperback, 52 pages, 8.5 x 9, $12.99.