Urban Bird Collective offers refuge for people of color, LGBTQ community

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The walk wasn’t scheduled to begin for another 25 minutes, but at 8:05 am, Monica Bryand was already out counting birds.

Seven cedar waxwings, four catbirds, and a handful of pigeons were among just some of her finds on a recent Sunday morning at Wakáŋ Tipi, a sacred Dakota site in St. Paul restored and maintained by the Lower Phalen Creek Project (LPCP).

She pointed to a bird on a nearby power line. Cedar waxwing number eight, she said.

Bryand, a Latina who describes herself as “crazy for birds,” founded the Urban Bird Collective (UBC) in 2018 with the goal of creating a welcoming space in the birding community for Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ individuals. The collective’s Facebook group now boasts over 450 members from diverse backgrounds.

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