Come for the birding, stay for the brunch — Prince George’s Co. wraps up Black Birder’s Week

Maria Elena Montero wants everyone to find the same joy she feels when she goes bird watching.

Montero, who works at the tourism agency Experience Prince George’s, will be leading a birding and brunch event Saturday, the final event of Black Birder’s Week.

She said that, as a person of color, “I’m definitely a rare bird out there, right? I’m the only one who looks like me.”

That’s why Black Birder’s Week was founded three years ago.

Black bird watchers, ecologists and scientists compared notes on how they were challenged in the field after an incident in New York City in which a white woman called police after a Black birder in Central Park asked her to leash her dog.

Since then, Black Birder’s Week has turned into a celebration of the increased interest in getting outdoors and the message that, as Montero said, “nature belongs to everyone.”

As a longtime birder, Montero said the “healing power of nature” can be restorative. Just being outside, observing birds, listening to their songs, she said, “does so many good things for ourselves and, in turn, in how we give back to our communities.”

The week’s events have also let Montero “highlight some of the gorgeous spaces we have right here in Prince George’s County.”

On Wednesday morning, she led a bird walk at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, a birding “hot spot” for a variety of species.

Among the birds spotted Wednesday was a blue grosbeak. She said first-time birders are often enchanted when they spot the bluebirds that are common at Patuxent.

“The bluebirds are always a hit. They’re super-pretty birds with a gorgeous song,” she said.

Birding doesn’t require special equipment, said Montero, although investing in a pair of binoculars can add to the enjoyment of the activity. And you don’t have to go far or own a car to find birds around you.

“Lake Artemesia, for example, is accessible via the Green Line on Metro,” she said.

And while it’s exciting to spot a rare bird out in the field, Montero said the beauty of “backyard birds,” such as cardinals and blue jays, shouldn’t be ignored.

“Robins and cardinals get me every year,” Montero said, referring to their vocal skills. “Their repertoire is incredible.”

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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