Nadir Souirgi was born to immigrant parents. A Haitian and Moroccan respectively. His mother was a political refugee who had to flee Haiti, along with her family under traumatic circumstances. This biracial and bicultural experience, along with his mother’s own work as an activist were key to his political development. He grew up in NYC and Miami and was introduced to birdwatching by a close family friend starting at the age of 5. Nadir studied art for a few years, including a time at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He never finished college. Having met the minimum number of required college credits to be an assistant teacher, Nadir began working at the Harbor Science and Arts Charter School in 2000. The students, ranging in ages from 4 to 14, are primarily children of color from low income communities in East Harlem, Harlem, and the Bronx. He then became the art teacher there in 2003-2004.
Nadir founded the Harlem County Bird Club in 2010-2011 in order to introduce birdwatching to his students. This particular approach to science education, which foregrounds racial justice, as opposed to conservation, has earned some positive attention. The club received a gift of 26 new binoculars in 2018 from the American Birding Association and NY Audubon started its own bird focused after school program based on the the Harlem County Bird Club.
Nadir received an award from The Linnaean Society of New York in recognition of his work with children in March of 2019. Founded in 1878, the Linnean Society is one of the oldest amateur naturalist societies in the US. It was also around 2014 that birds and nature themes became central to his art. In 2015, Nadir began working as a bird guide for NYC Audubon, a bird and environmental justice organization that focuses on education and research. He also did volunteer work for Paul Sweet, the Collections Manager in the department of ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. This is the largest Collection of bird specimens in the world. Nadir spent many hours studying and drawing dead birds.
Twice, in June of 2017 and 2018, Zugunruhe Birding Tours hired Nadir to be a guide on trips that brought clients to the Bering Sea and the Western Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Half of that trip is spent on a research vessel out at sea for five days looking for albatross and auks. More recently, he was an artist-in-residence at NYC Audubon’s Nolan Park house on Governors Island in the summer of 2018. Nadir is currently preparing to lead a trip as an independent bird guide to Antarctica, on a Rockjumper Birding Tours chartered ship in the winter of 2022, while continuing his teaching and art practice.