Dropping "Audubon"

American Kestrel, NYC Bird Alliance's "mascot" bird. Photo: Neil Berget / Getty Images
Statement on the decision to drop "Audubon" by the Board of Directors | March 2023 

After a rigorous assessment, the board of directors of NYC Audubon (now known as NYC Bird Alliance) voted on March 20, 2023, to change the organization’s name, dropping “Audubon” and beginning a process to develop a new name that represents what we do, embodies our organizational values, and is inclusive and welcoming to all New Yorkers. 

While we value John James Audubon’s contributions to art and ornithology, and the foundation he laid for an appreciation of nature and a conservation ethos in this country, we recognize that his views and actions towards people of color and Indigenous people were harmful and offensive—and that the harm continues today, presenting a barrier to people who might otherwise become involved in or support our work. We acknowledge that the use of "Audubon" in our name affects our ability to retain and attract staff, board members, supporters, volunteers, and organization members.

At a time when birds are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, and the risks of built infrastructure in urban environments, it is more vital than ever that we enlist support from allies, partners, and the public. The more people who hear our message and help us help bird populations, the better. The protection of birds depends on work and support from all the communities across our City.

We are committed to continuing our work to create a more sustainable city for wildlife and people, and we believe that dropping “Audubon” from our name is an important step towards achieving that goal. 

NYC Audubon and the Audubon network
Founded in 1979, NYC Audubon is part of a national network of local, independent chapters affiliated with the National Audubon Society, which has recently announced its plan to keep the Audubon name after a year-long deliberation. Many chapters around the country have undergone similar processes to assess the Audubon name; several other chapters, including those in Seattle, Portland, Madison, Detroit, Georgia, Chicago, and Washington DC, have announced their intentions to change. Despite bearing a different name, we remain a chapter of the National Audubon Society, with whom we share a commitment to bird conservation amid a global climate crisis and habitat degradation.

Our assessment process
Over a period of eight months, our board and staff thoroughly examined the impact of the “Audubon” name on our mission and values. We considered how the name impacted our conservation work, our engagement efforts, and our advocacy success in protecting wild birds and their habitats. Some of these complex considerations include the importance of aligning with our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility; the recognition of the long-standing “Audubon” brand; the impact on partnerships and our credibility; and the time and expense involved in a potential name change.

Our mission remains the same
Our name will change, but our core mission remains the same. We will continue our important work of protecting wild birds and their habitats across the five boroughs, ensuring a more sustainable future for all New Yorkers. A name change invites more people into this work, to engage with nature and the wonder of birds, and to take action by volunteering and raising their voices to protect urban biodiversity, and to create a better New York City for both birds and people. 

Moving forward together
We have undertaken a robust process to identify a name that encapsulates who we are and what we do, and that is inclusive and welcoming to all New Yorkers.

We know there will be those who disagree with our decision. But we hope that our commitment to the mission and our shared joy for birds will keep us moving forward, together, in this important work. 

Our commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
Changing the organization’s name is a visible representation of our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA)—but it is only one of many steps we are taking. Read more here about how we center EDIA in our conservation, engagement, and advocacy work, and in our internal operations.

Read more
There’s more information: background resources and an FAQ, here; voices from the community give their feedback in our printed publication The Urban Audubon here.