History of National Bird Day
Whether they’re your backyard’s star cardinal or the common pigeons that flock to and fro in the park, birds have always held a spot of fascination, love, and adoration in our hearts. There’s a certain awe that can only be tapped into when watching an eagle soar. Unfortunately, most birds are either endangered or protected, this is mostly due to habitat loss or illegal pet trade.
That’s why the Avian Welfare Coalition created National Bird Day: to raise awareness of the hardships and plights of these important animals and how we can initiate the change needed to create a healthier, more sustainable relationship with them.
Birds are often considered living links to the past, being the closest-related animals to the evolution of dinosaurs. They’re often keystone species in the ecosystems, signifiers of its health and vitality. For example, the holes left behind by woodpeckers are often used as homes for a large variety of other animals. That means if woodpeckers were to run out of a food source – or out of the right kinds of trees – so, too, would all the animals dependent on their pecking skills.
While National Bird Day may be relatively new, having been founded in 2002, the adversity that birds have had to face is nothing novel to the animal kingdom. Just ask the Dodo, the Labrador Duck, or the Passenger Pigeon, considered sacred by many Native American tribes and often the subject of many works of American art until its demise.
National Bird Day timeline
Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem was first published in "The Evening Mirror"
Looney Tunes debuts its Roadrunner character, chased by Wile E. Coyotoe
"Blackbird" is written to mark the importance of the U.S. civil rights movement
The Avian Welfare Coalition and Born Free USA found National Bird Day to draw attention to birds.
National Bird Day Traditions
National Bird Day FAQs
Is there a National Bird Day?
Why is National Bird Day celebrated?
Which day is celebrated on 5th January?
National Bird Day Activities
Study some birds
Whether you pick up a birding book like the Sibley Guide to Birds, read a memoir like “H is for Hawk, or even a novel with birds in the title like Maya Angelou’s, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, this is the time to brush up on your bird knowledge and reflect on the role of birds in our lives.
Watch some birds
According to the U.S. census, more Americans watch birds than play baseball and American football combined. By joining the quiet ranks of the country’s birdwatchers, you’ll discover a vast new hobby and a huge number of quietly contented people who can give you new insight into your place in this fragile world. Talk about a reason to try a new hobby!
Adopt a bird
Rather than buying a bird from a breeder, why not adopt a rescued bird and help ease the problems facing birds across the United States. National Bird Day is an opportunity for us all to get educated on the needs of captive birds—from regular water and light to an absence of air pollution—and to consider how we are helping or hindering birds’ chances in our wider world.
Why We Love National Bird Day
Because birds are much more than starlings and sparrows
There are 9,800 species of birds, and while you’re unlikely to glimpse an ostrich or an emu in suburban America, that’s not to say that a little effort and patience won’t yield remarkable birding results. National Bird Day celebrates the broad variety of bird species, including the 850 species that inhabit the United States. Sure, they all have two wings, feathers, and a beak. But there are remarkable differences after that.
Because birds are under threat
National Bird Day is scheduled to coincide with the annual Christmas Bird Count, which lasts three weeks, and is the largest citizen science survey in the world, keeping track of America’s wild birds. By counting as many birds as we can see, we get an accurate picture of bird numbers. On January 5, birders switch their focus to the care and wellbeing of the country’s millions of captive birds.
Because birds have a unique place in our hearts
From the story of Icarus to Big Bird to Roadrunner, from Prince’s song “When Doves Cry” to Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch, from that “bird is the word” song they always play on the TV show Family Guy to the wisdom of owls and all the world’s partridges in pear trees, birds are all over the place in our culture, and encourage us to reflect and be inspired. Flight is a metaphor for ambition, but also, for hubris, and the inevitability of landing. Birds make us think hard about our place in the world.
National Bird Day dates