The world is filled with a plethora of different species of birds. From cardinals to doves, from parakeets to parrots. Different people have different relationships with the various species of birds. As such, one could easily imagine that there could actually be numerous National Bird Days in the world, serving different purposes and perhaps varying by region.
What this day refers to, however, is known as National Bird Day, observed primarily in the United States. This is a bit different from occasions such as International Migratory National Bird Day, World Migratory National Bird Day, National Bird Day (UK), and several other National Bird Days which do not follow the same etymology as “turkey day”.
It is also worth noting that each of these is named for those avian friends, not the late Senator Robert Byrd!
The ‘National’ term might be a bit deceptive here, since it’s not actually a national holiday in the United States. For a day to technically be a national holiday, an Act of Congress is required, and there is no evidence that has ever happened. That being said, this delightful day is still popularly known as National Bird Day, regardless of whatever Congress might think of that.
So get ready to learn about and celebrate National Bird Day!
History of National Bird Day
Back in 1894, Charles Almanzo Babcock, the superintendent of schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania, declared the first holiday in the United States to celebrate birds. Babcock was passionate about the idea of advancing bird conservation as a moral value and it seems that his idea for the day caught on. Babcock’s National Bird Day eventually turned into what is now known as International Migratory National Bird Day, which is celebrated in May.
That day is not actually related to this National Bird Day, though, in terms of history. This particular version of National Bird Day was created as it marked the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count in the mid-21st century.
National Bird Day has been dedicated at least in part to raising awareness about birds that are held in captivity. This day is a project of the Avian Welfare Coalition, which works hard to raise awareness for birds that are captured or produced in captivity for either profit or amusement of humans.
Presumably that includes Aunt Marjorie’s parrot, the penguins in the Columbus Zoo, and that turkey that made the ultimate sacrifice to grace the family’s dinner table for Thanksgiving back in November. After all, a holiday that marks the end of three weeks of focusing on wild birds that occurs during the Christmas Bird Count would appropriately focus some attention on captive birds.
The goal of the day is to educate folks on the destructive tendencies of the bird trade, the cruelty of bird breeding mills, and ideas for helping and improving the lives of birds that are already living in captivity.
How to Celebrate National Bird Day
Looking for ideas on how to celebrate National Bird Day? Well this list is a great way to begin. Try out some of these ideas or come up with some of your own:
Learn More About Birds
Birds are important for a variety of reasons. They are a valuable part of nature’s ecosystem. Many of them sing and quite a few of them even look pretty! Of course, many species of birds are also eaten by humans, but it does seem that it might be a little inappropriate to go quail hunting in honour of National Bird Day, no matter how delicious quail might be.
Visit Unique Birds in Their Natural Habitats
Forgo the zoo and head on over to places where the birds actually live and thrive in their natural habitats. For some bird lovers, this could simply mean taking a walk in the forest with some bird watching glasses to spot some unique creatures.
For others, this might mean building an entire vacation to an exotic place to see tropical birds in their natural homes. Many different Eco-tour companies will offer limited viewing opportunities for those who want to travel around the world to see parrots in Guatemala, Tenerife, Belize, Honduras and more!
Help with Bird Conservation
Raising awareness, getting involved and making a donation are all ways that bird lovers can celebrate National Bird Day. Host a charity event or party to let friends and family enjoy an evening while learning about the important reasons behind National Bird Day. Get together for a meal, watch a documentary, and then let people know about these ways they can make a donation to these important support bird conservation efforts:
- Indonesian Parrot Project
Helping protect endangered parrots and cockatoos from trappers, smugglers, transporters and traders.
- Hatched to Fly Free
This organization works to breed and then release beautiful, colorful macaws in the nation of Costa Rica.
- One Earth Conservation
Empowering people to save the planet, this organization helps to educate and build programs to love nature, with a specific focus on parrots.
Visit the National Bird Day Website
There’s also a website at National Bird Day, for those who want to learn more about the folks who are actually promoting this day, this website is a great place to start. It’s filled with resources and information to educate adults and children about the difficulties faced by so many birds in captivity today.
Get Educated on the Risks of Bird Extinction
On a serious note, approximately 12 percent of the world’s bird species could face extinction in the next century, if things continue on as they have been. That includes nearly a third of the 330 different species of parrots.Things don’t look a great deal better for numerous species of songbirds, not to mention some penguin species and others, like the kiwi bird. The largest components of these threats of extinction are habitat destruction and pet trade. A great idea for celebrating the day would be learning about all of the wonders of birds, then helping to educate friends and family members about their plight. Because the survival of the world’s birds hinges on public awareness as well as support for conservation efforts all over the world.