NHM Launches New Digital Initiative, "Backyard Birding"

Celebrating Birding with New Video Series, Zine, and Online Resources

images of a pelican,  woman holding a parrot, and owl

Los Angeles, CA (April 14, 2022) – This spring, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) launches Backyard Birding, a whimsical, visually engaging, and fact-packed digital series all about birds in Los Angeles County. Its first season, live today, features five brief videos narrated by NHM’s birding experts Dr. Allison Shultz, assistant curator of ornithology, and Kimball Garrett, emeritus collections manager of ornithology.

Noted ornithologists, Shultz and Garrett explain what is special about Los Angeles as a habitat for diverse species of birds and what makes L.A. the birdiest county in the United States with over 500 species of native birds. Produced to inspire new birders and the bird curious, video viewers can learn which types of birds are common in the area, what their habitats look like, and what seasons they may be encountered. Backyard Birding encourages visitors to spend time appreciating the natural environment in Los Angeles County and celebrate the sights and sounds of springtime.

The Backyard Birding landing page features a bird zine, bird-related articles, videos, and the latest bird-related research being conducted by NHM’s own scientists. Additional content aims to engage with community partners and elevate the voices of birding students at a local L.A. school, birding clubs, and nature lovers all around L.A. County. Following the inaugural season of Backyard Birding, NHM will continue sharing new birding content to be enjoyed by birding amateurs and experts alike.

Backyard Birding arrives in time to help Angelenos document bird species in the annual City Nature Challenge taking place April 29 to May 2, 2022. Run by the Community Science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences, the Challenge is an annual four-day global bioblitz at the end of April, where cities are in a collaboration-meets-friendly-competition to see not only what can be accomplished when we all work toward a common goal, but also which city can gather the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the event.

Experience this new series at NHM.ORG/backyardbirding.

NHM’s Department of Ornithology
Ornithology, the study of birds, is one of the founding disciplines of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM). At the core of the program is a research collection of 123,000 bird specimens, representing over 5,400 species. NHM’s collections are particularly strong for North America, Africa, South America, and the Pacific Ocean. The bird skeleton collection, representing over 17,000 individuals, is among the three largest in western North American and is an important scientific resource for the museum’s well-known studies of fossil birds, as well as for field guide illustrators and fine artists.

Dr. Allison J. Shultz, Assistant Curator of Ornithology
Dr. Allison J. Shultz is an ornithologist who seeks to understand the evolution of bird diversity, focusing on two major areas: how birds are responding to human-caused environmental changes, and how and why bird colors evolve. In addition to her research, Dr. Shultz is passionate about increasing diversity, inclusion, access and equity in the sciences, and inspiring a love of nature in everyone.

Shultz grew up in Southern California, but didn’t develop a love of birds until taking a natural history course in her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. That class opened her eyes to the birds that are around all the time, even in the city. After that class, Shultz fell in love with birds and museums, and made that the focus of her work in her graduate work at San Diego State University (MS) and Harvard University (PhD).

Kimball L. Garrett, Emeritus Collections Manager of Ornithology
Kimball L. Garrett is responsible for the care and use of the ornithological collections, additions of specimens to the collections, and the databases associated with the collections. Garrett joined the Natural History Museum staff in March 1982. A lifelong California resident, he grew up in Hollywood, received his undergraduate education in Zoology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California, Berkeley, and did graduate work in Ornithology at UCLA.

An avid birdwatcher since childhood, Garrett has been involved in documenting the avifauna of Los Angeles County and adjacent regions for over forty years. Since the early 1990s he has monitored nonnative, naturalized bird species in California, including 10 plus species of parrots, various doves, and several seed-eating passerines including Nutmeg Mannikins and Orange Bishops. He was lead author for two species monographs in the authoritative Birds of North America series, those for the Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) and the White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus).

About the Natural History Museums of Los County
The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) include the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park, and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall. They operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historical research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A. neighborhoods, and a slate of community science programs—creating indoor-outdoor visitor experiences that explore the past, present, and future. Visit NHMLAC.ORG for adventure, education, and entertainment opportunities.

For interviews and imagery, please contact Sally Márquez, smarquez@nhm.org