Birds have a special place in our hearts, their beauty, their songs, their flight, so it’s time to celebrate them on National Bird Day on January 5! While birds are amazing, they’re also a species under particular threat. And the phrase “canary in the coalmine” was named after birds for a reason—they’re the barometers of our planet’s environmental health, and our planet’s wellbeing. The fact that so many bird species are under threat thanks to the illegal pet trade, disease, and habitat loss means it’s more important than ever to raise public awareness of the needs of birds. The survival of hundreds of species depends on it!
National Bird Day timeline
National Bird Day is born
The Avian Welfare Coalition and Born Free USA found National Bird Day to draw attention to birds.
The Beatles commemorate birds
"Blackbird" is written to mark the importance of the U.S. civil rights movement
Looney Tunes debuts its Roadrunner character, chased by Wile E. Coyotoe
"The Raven" is published
Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem was first published in "The Evening Mirror"
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.