New York City birder Christian Cooper will host a new National Geographic TV show called Extraordinary Birder.
Cooper, who became hooked on birds as a child during a cross-country road trip, has long been a regular birder in New York’s Central Park. He is a board member of New York City Audubon and was among several birders profiled in the 2012 HBO film Birders: The Central Park Effect.
In May 2020, Cooper, who is Black, was birding in Central Park when he encountered a white woman who was letting her dog wander around off-leash in the Ramble, an area where dogs are supposed to be leashed. He asked her to leash the dog, she refused, and when he attempted to give the dog a treat, she called the police and said she was being threatened by “an African American man.” (Her false claim eventually led her to receive a third-degree misdemeanor charge, which was later dropped.)
Cooper’s video of the incident went viral, and it inspired the creation of Black Birders Week, a now annual event that highlights the experiences of Black birders in outdoor spaces.
Here’s how National Geographic describes the new TV show:
“Life-long birder Christian Cooper takes us into the wild, wonderful, and unpredictable world of birds. Whether braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a Peregrine Falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above.”
A release date has not yet been announced. The show will run on one of National Geographic’s channels or on Disney+. Six episodes are planned. Cooper told the New York Times that when “he first heard from National Geographic about the possibility of a show about a year and a half ago — ‘I was all in,’ he said.” The Times also notes that the show “will feature Cooper birding in deserts, cities, rainforests and the rural South.”