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A Central Park Birder Has a Recent TV Show


For years, Christian Cooper has studied the habits of Kirtland’s warblers, Swainson’s thrushes, Acadian flycatchers and the opposite birds he has spent countless hours looking for or observing.

While Mr. Cooper, a resident of Manhattan, has watched birds everywhere in the world, one in every of his most frequent haunts is his beloved Central Park, where greater than 200 species, including, loons, egrets, falcons and owls, live or stop by during migratory flights.

He is probably best known for his encounter there two years ago with a girl who called the police and falsely claimed that he was threatening her after Mr. Cooper asked that she keep her dog on a leash.

Now, he’s about to once more be in the general public eye — this time on his own television show.

On Monday, National Geographic announced a latest series featuring Mr. Cooper, called “Extraordinary Birder,” that is predicted to run on one in every of National Geographic’s channels or on Disney+. A premiere date has not been released.

“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,” National Geographic said in its announcement, “he does whatever it takes to find out about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world within the sky above.”

Mr. Cooper said that he first heard from National Geographic about the potential for a show a few yr and a half ago — “I used to be all in,” he said. The six planned episodes will feature Cooper birding in deserts, cities, rainforests and the agricultural South.

“I like spreading the gospel of birding,” he said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he was looking forward to encouraging more people “to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we’ve amongst us.”

Mr. Cooper, 59, has been a semipublic figure in various ways for many years. He served on the board of directors of GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. While an editor for Marvel Comics, he was credited with creating one in every of the primary gay characters within the Star Trek comic universe.

The confrontation in Central Park in 2020 thrust him into the general public eye in a latest way. Mr. Cooper took out his phone and started recording during a disagreement with the lady he encountered there, Amy Cooper. The video showed Ms. Cooper, who isn’t related to Mr. Cooper, making a 911 call and saying to him: “I’m going to inform them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

After Mr. Cooper’s sister posted the video to Twitter, it was viewed tens of hundreds of thousands of times. Within the resulting furor, Ms. Cooper lost her job with the investment firm Franklin Templeton and was charged by the Manhattan district attorney’s office with filing a false police report. Ms. Cooper sued Franklin Templeton in Federal District Court in Manhattan, saying the corporate defamed and discriminated against her. Franklin Templeton has asked that the suit be dismissed.

Mr. Cooper emerged as a thoughtful, measured voice. He spoke publicly about what he called the “deep vein of racial bias” that runs through society, and he said there was no excuse for the racism inherent in Ms. Cooper making a false allegation against him.

But he also distanced himself from the general public pillorying of Ms. Cooper and declined to cooperate with prosecutors, who ended up asking a judge to dismiss the case against her after she accomplished a therapeutic program that included instruction about racial biases.

Mr. Cooper has loved birds since growing up on Long Island and being struck on the age of 10 by the sight of red-winged blackbirds. He still listens for birdsong, wherever he’s.

“It adds one other dimension to only being on the road,” he said. “It adds one other dimension to the way you exist on this planet.”

While making “Extraordinary Birder,” Mr. Cooper said, he added to his life’s list, glimpsing burrowing owls for the primary time. “They are literally quite lovely,” he said.

Mr. Cooper still goes usually to Central Park, especially this time of yr — he’s normally there around daybreak. On Tuesday morning he had been excited to see a Tennessee warbler, a difficult-to-spot bird with “a very distinctive, urgent cry” that he said sounds partially like “a machine gun.”

“The second you hear that,” he said, “it’s like, oh boy, there’s a Tennessee around.”

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