Sarah Hankins and Ellie Yamanaka of Birds Connect Seattle at Refuge Day (photo by Glenn Nelson)

Q. You have been “Seattle Audubon” for 107 years; how are people supposed to know who you are?
In evaluating the possibility of the name change, we came to believe that a vast majority of people, especially historically excluded people such as younger and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, did not recognize “Audubon.” The ubiquity and power of the brand was presumed – by those already familiar with it. As such, it was a good time for a name change that is more reflective of who we are and what we want to accomplish. Also, the name-change process gives us an opportunity to better focus on marketing ourselves to a larger audience.

Q. What if I send an email to your old “” addresses?
No sweat. They will be forwarded to the correct person in our organization. Feel free to change the addresses, however, just by substituting for

All the Who’s, What’s, How’s, & Why’s About Our New Name >>

Q. I wrote my donation check to “Seattle Audubon.” Can you cash it?
Yes, Birds Connect Seattle has retained the right to use Seattle Audubon. Our bank will continue to process checks written using either name. All donations remain tax deductible and our Federal Tax Identification Number remains 91-6009716.

Q. I made a bequest to Seattle Audubon. Do I need to change my will?
No, Birds Connect Seattle has retained the right to use Seattle Audubon and all the essential, relevant information – address, Federal Tax Identification Number, and banking – remains the same. If you happen to be updating your trust, insurance, or retirement accounts, replacing our former name with Birds Connect Seattle can make the future processes a little easier.

Q. What does Birds Connect Seattle mean to your mission?
Our essential mission – to “advocate and organize for cities where people and birds thrive” – does not change. We believe our new name, and the branding that will accompany it, brings better focus to what we’re about.

As we embarked on the re-naming process, several things were important to us:

  1. Removing any kind of barrier to participation in the enjoyment and protection of birds,
  2. Clearly signaling the importance of community and inclusion (aka, connection),
  3. Clearly signaling that ours is a birds-focused conservation organization,
  4. Giving a solid nod to the work that has been done and will be done by the “Audubon” network by producing a naming convention that could be accessible to other chapters also considering a name change.

A Dark-eyed Junco slips during a 2022 ice storm in Seattle (photo by Glenn Nelson).

Q. Didn’t the National Audubon Society decide not to change its name? Does that mean you’re leaving the Audubon network?
The National Audubon Society announced its decision to keep its name this past spring. We may have different names, but the work that brought us together in the first place has not changed. The national organization says it will leave it to independent chapters to determine their own positions on the “Audubon” name, and we continue to value the strength of collaboration in our mission to love and protect birds and the habitat they share with people.

Q. What are other Audubon chapters doing?
We have spoken with numerous chapters in our region and across the country. Anyone interested in learning more is invited to complete our interest form. So far, at least seven other chapters — Chicago, Detroit, District of Columbia, Golden Gate (San Francisco), Madison, New York, and Portland – have voted to undergo a name change. It is our understanding that other large independent chapters are preparing to follow suit. The Bird Union, which represents employees of the National Audubon Society, also dropped “Audubon” from its name. Previously, the Audubon Naturalist Society in Maryland , which is independent of the National Audubon Society network, renamed itself Nature Forward in October, 2022.

For media accounts on the decisions and actions of chapters, including ours, check out our page on local and national coverage.

Q. Why does the center in Seward Park still have the “Audubon” name?
Our friends at the Seward Park Audubon Center operate under Audubon Washington, which is a field office of the National Audubon Society. Employees at both entities are employees of the National Audubon Society. Birds Connect Seattle is an independent organization with its own governance, budget, and staff. We can independently choose a name, while Seward Park and Audubon Washington are tied to the decision of the national organization.

Q. If you wanted other chapters to have access to “Birds Connect,” why did you trademark that name?
We have discussed sharing the naming convention and are prepared to do so. This is a big reason (in addition to his abundant creativity) why Tykee James, the president at DC Audubon, was a member of our Name Selection Committee. Trademarking the name helps reserve it for identifying and branding organizations that aim to protect birds and the habitats they share with people.


A Green Heron contemplates its reflection (photo by Glenn Nelson).

Q. Why are you canceling John James Audubon?
We recognize Mr. Audubon’s contributions to the admiration, study, and protection of birds. However, his actions, including slave trading, scientific fraud, and anti-abolitionist sentiments, do not reflect our organization’s values. Relatedly, we support the eradication of eponymous names – initially, at least, for birds and, of course, our organization.

Q. Can we move away from wokeness and talking about race, and get back to birds and conservation?
Talking about and working toward access and inclusion for people is practicing conservation. Birds cannot protect themselves and, let’s face it, we need to protect them from threats, such as habitat loss and climate change, wrought by humans.

Q. If inclusion and antiracism are part of your mission, will you do anything beyond just changing your name?
Changing our name was a necessary step to removing a major barrier to inclusion in the protection of birds and the people who love them. It’s also only the most visible part of our mission for inclusion and antiracism.

In 2020, we adopted a strategic plan, Cities at the Center, with equity as one of three core themes. The next year, we completed a comprehensive audit of our organization’s internal and external practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion. A year after that, in addition to launching our name-change process, we created and filled the position of Community Director to help lead and track our inclusion and antiracism efforts. In conjunction with changing our name, we have re-examined and improved the equity and diversity in our hiring and programming. We have expanded and strengthened our community partnerships.

Our commitment to change, inclusion, and antiracism touches every corner of our organization, and we recognize that this only is a beginning and that the work is ongoing.

Q. What “harm” was the “Audubon” name inflicting on BIPOC and other historically marginalized people and communities?
At the heart of the question and its answer is how much recognition that “Audubon” actually registered with people and communities that have been historically excluded from mainstream activities like birding and conservation.

Our strong experience, and the experience of so many others, is that “Audubon” had virtually zero recognition among BIPOC communities and individuals and, indeed, among a vast majority of younger people in the U.S. Because of the history of our country, which includes a strong white supremacist framework baked into the DNA of our landscapes, the conservation sector suffers a major trust deficit with BIPOC communities. Further, the issues with John James Audubon are easy to discover these days and, if we invited previously excluded peoples to our mission and activities, we believe they would have balked because of the “Audubon” name.

Preventing even a single BIPOC individual from participating in and/or enjoying the benefits of the mainstream conservation movement would be unconscionable. That would play a part in denying access to accumulated resources and political power to BIPOC communities, which suffer the impacts of environmental calamities first and disproportionately.

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