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National Bird Day

National Bird Day

National Bird Day

Birds have always held a special place in our hearts, which is why we celebrate them on National Bird Day every January 5! While birds are amazing, they’re also a massive animal group under particular threat. And the phrase “canary in the coal mine” was named after birds for a reason—they’re the barometers of our planet’s environmental health. 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!

When Is National Bird Day 2023?

We celebrate birds and their numerous species on National Bird Day on January 5.

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. Certain awe can only be tapped into when watching an eagle soar. But unfortunately, most birds are either endangered or protected, mostly due to habitat loss or the 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 their health and vitality. For example, the holes left behind by woodpeckers are often used as homes for many other animals. That means if woodpeckers were to run out of a food source – or out of the right kinds of trees – too, would all the animals depend on their pecking skills? 

While National Bird Day may be relatively new, having been founded in 2002, the adversity birds have faced nothing new 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

1845
“The Raven” is published
Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem was first published in “The Evening Mirror.”

1949
Meep, meep!
Looney Tunes debuts its Roadrunner character, chased by Wile E. Coyote.

1968
The Beatles commemorate birds
“Blackbird” is written to mark the importance of the U.S. civil rights movement.

2002
National Bird Day is born
The Avian Welfare Coalition and Born Free USA found National Bird Day to draw attention to birds.

National Bird Day Traditions

Read an Audubon book.
The Birds of America, created by John James Audubon, is just as much a work of art as a seminal work of scientific mastery.
Build a birdhouse
Birds need housing, just like every other animal. So as we continue to deforest large swaths of the planet for development, we must create birdhouses to make up for – even just a fraction – the loss of habitat they face every day.
Feed some birds
Halved grapes, nuts, and seeds. If you’ve got some trail mix you don’t want anymore; birds would love you. If you have chickens, you can feed them most food and table scraps, and they’ll gobble it (had to!) right up.

Birds By The Numbers

10,000 — the estimated number of species of birds.

2¼ inches — the length of the smallest bird on Earth. 

1 — the number of eyes that ducks keep open when they sleep. 

50 — the number of words most parrots can learn. 

43 mph — the maximum running speed of an Ostrich. 

20% — the percentage of bird species that migrate long distances each year. 

100 — the minimum number of words that African grey parrots can learn. 

50,000 — the number of acorns that woodpeckers are known to hoard. 

National Bird Day Faqs

Is there a National Bird Day?
Yes, it is every year on January 5. You’re on the perfect website for it right now.

Why is National Bird Day celebrated?
National Bird Day is celebrated to appreciate everything these great animals do and to raise awareness for the adversity they face daily.

Which day is celebrated on January 5?
National Bird Day is celebrated on January 5 and (probably) millions of birthdays.

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.

5 Fascinating Facts About Birds

No teeth
No species of birds have teeth.
Birds communicate well
Through their chirping and singing, birds can communicate well.
Why birds sing and chirp
One of the reasons birds sing and chirp is to attract a mate.
A group of birds
A group of birds is called a flock.
What big eyes you have
Ostriches have the largest eyes of any mammal on land.

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 wide 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. It is the largest citizen science survey in the world, keeping track of America’s wild birds. By counting as many birds as possible, we accurately picture bird numbers. On January 5, birders switched focus to the care and well-being 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 T.V. 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 and hubris and the inevitability of landing. Birds make us think hard about our place in the world.

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