Central Park birder Christian Cooper rewrites his own narrative in National Geographic show
Christian Cooper is back in the public eye on his own terms.
You may remember the name Christian Cooper, but if you don't, this will jog your memory. In summer 2020, Cooper made the national news when a white woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), called the police, falsely accusing him of threatening her. Christian Cooper was out in the early morning at Central Park doing what he does often: bird-watching. It's a longtime hobby that, thanks to that unfortunate exposure, he's now taking to the next level and sharing with the world. Cooper recently finished filming six episodes of "Extraordinary Birder" for National Geographic.
"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," National Geographic wrote in a press release announcing its new slate of personality-driven exploration and adventure themed storytelling.
Lifelong birder Christian Cooper (@blackburniannyc) will take us into the wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds in his new show, The Extraordinary Birder.pic.twitter.com/2ZwTlZ3JmN— National Geographic TV (@National Geographic TV) 1652734815
Cooper is an avid bird watcher and has observed birds all over the world, but he's most at home watching the more than 200 species of birds in New York City's Central Park. Thankfully he hasn't let his encounter with Amy Cooper and her dog taint his feelings about his favorite spot. The show will allow him to create a new association with his name and bird watching, and presumably he'll be spending some time in the park, showing viewers just how magical the wildlife there is.
He explained to the New York Times that he first heard from National Geographic about collaborating on the show about a year and a half ago. “I was all in,” he said. “I love spreading the gospel of birding.”
Additionally, he shared excitement about getting more people “to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we have among us.”
Cooper's reverence for birds was formed in childhood. He explained to the Times that he has been in love with birds since the age of 10. Growing up on Long Island, he was fascinated with red-winged blackbirds. No matter where in the world he is, he'll take the time to listen for birdsong.
“It adds another dimension to just being on the street,” he explained. “It adds another dimension to how you exist in the world.”
Filming the show allowed Cooper to expand his birding experiences, following his passion to see new (to him) species. He got to see some burrowing owls, which he found "actually quite adorable."