Christian Cooper standing in the center in front of a green forest wearing binoculars for birdwatching
June 12, 2023

Christian Cooper on Surviving Racist Violence and Better Living Through Birdwatching

Just a few hours before George Floyd was murdered, Christian Cooper was birdwatching in Central Park when he was the victim of a white woman who attempted to weaponize race and policing against him. The video of the event went viral, and luckily Christian was able to leave the area before police arrived, and is here with us this week–with a story much larger than this one event. His new book, Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World, is now available.

Praise for Better Living Through Birding:

“Christian Cooper’s book is every bit as wondrous and captivating as the birds he so adores—a joyous tour across subcultures and continents, and a masterful account of a life full of song, full of heart, and fully lived.”—Ed Yong, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of An Immense World

“An uplifting and inspiring read. Christian Cooper is a national treasure.”—Van Jones, New York Times bestselling author and host of The Van Jones Show

“Utterly captivating, a marvel of storytelling . . . Christian Cooper’s memoir is tender, honest, funny, wise, poignant, piercing, and infused with brilliant observations on the nature of birds, humans, and his own extraordinary personal journey.”—Jennifer Ackerman, New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds

“I cannot think of a better guide to teach us all to slow down, look, listen, and grab our binoculars than Cooper, a self-described Black queer nerd, who delivers the best nature bath ever, in lyrical, lush, relatable prose.”—Brittney Cooper, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Eloquent Rage

“Funny, brave, kind, and eagle-eyed, Cooper brings into focus not only the spectacular winged creatures he loves, but also the glorious messiness, prejudice, courage, and passion of our own species—and how birding can show us all how to lead better lives.”—Sy Montgomery, author of How to Be a Good Creature

“Read this book if you want to discover the joys, struggles, and magic of birding, but even more because it’s a book about the joys, struggles, and magic of life. Christian Cooper is a brilliant storyteller who manages to pack history, science, and sociology—with just the right amount of laugh-out-loud sass—into his powerful memoir. This book soars!”—Juli Berwald, author of Spineless

“Christian Cooper writes with passion and honesty—even about that Central Park run-in and media storm, which he handled with aplomb. Birders are fortunate to have Mr. Cooper as a spokesperson for the modern age.”—Noah Strycker, author of Birding Without Borders

“In addressing the Central Park incident, [Cooper] elegantly frames it within both his own bird-focused narrative and a broader conversation about racism and police brutality. . . . This rewarding memoir adds heft and heart to the headlines.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


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Sources for audio clips

amy cooper full video || #central park #amy cooper #christian cooper
Body camera footage of George Floyd’s death released - Around the World
Wildlife Biologist Danielle Belleny: Co-founder of Black Birders Week - Central Texas Gardener
The Black American Experience in Nature - Berggruen Institute
Clip 1
amy cooper full video || #central park #amy cooper #christian cooper
Clip 2
Live Police Shooting of Philando Castile | Livestream Video [GRAPHIC CONTENT]
Clip 3
Maya Wiley On Rayshard Brooks: Police Shootings A Pandemic For Black America | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
Clip 4
Meet Two of the Founders of Black Birders Week Meet Two of the Founders of Black Birders Week
Clip 5
Bird expert and poet Drew Lanham on how he's inspired by the natural world - PBS Newshour
Clip 6
Florida, Texas advance anti-LGBTQ laws affecting gender-affirming care - CBC News
Rules for the Black Birdwatcher - With Drew Lanham

Show Credits

Host: Alyssa Milano
Executive Producer: Alyssa Milano
Associate Producer: Ben Jackson
Editing and Sound Production: Maciej Lewandowski
Music by: Josh Cooke & Eleisha Eagle and Milo Bugliari