Christian Cooper, an avid bird watcher, and political science Harvard grad, was almost arrested by New York City police two years ago because of false accusations at the hands of Amy Cooper (no relation to Christian Cooper and now popular dubbed “Central Park Karen“). But whereas the “Central Park Karen” was effectively canned from her position at Franklin Templeton, Christian Cooper will now have his own show on National Geographic. The six-part series, titled Extraordinary Birder, will give other birdwatchers and nature fans a glimpse into the “wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds” from his point of view.
Nat Geo released the following statement about its upcoming project with Cooper: “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.”
The 58-year-old Cooper, who is also the first openly gay writer and editor for Marvel Comics, told the New York Times he was “all in” for the show when Nat Geo reached out to him approximately eighteen months ago. “I love spreading the gospel of birding,” he shared with the publication last week. Cooper continued to say he hopes the show will lead more people “to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we have among us.” Extraordinary Birder is expected to air on Disney+ as well, but the show’s premiere date has not yet been announced.
This is not the first time the Long Island native has merged his love of birds and creativity with the Central Park incident to fuel conversation around change, however. “I think comics are actually ahead of birding in terms of recognizing demographic change, adapting to demographic change,” he told Audubon Magazine‘s Asher Elbein in September 2020. And so with that, Cooper partnered with DC Comics to launch Represent! The series kicked off with a digital novel called “It’s A Bird,” written by Cooper and illustrated by artist Alitha E. Martinez.
DC Comics editor-in-chief Marie Javins described the inaugural entry to Represent! as “a semi-fictionalized account of Christian’s very real evolution from a kid with a pair of binoculars to a man in an unexpected media spotlight after an altercation with a woman walking her dog in Central Park.”
The novel’s teen protagonist, Jules, is gifted a special pair of binoculars from his dad. And the story begins with Jules’s face-to-face encounter with racism on what he’d have hoped was just another regular day of watching birds. “I hope young people read it in particular, and that they’re inspired to keep the focus where it needs to be,” Cooper said at the series’ inception, “which is on those we have lost and how we keep from losing more.”