National Bird Day

Who doesn’t love birds (other than Sheldon Cooper)?  We are attracted by their beauty and diversity, their songs, the graceful freedom of their flight and their companionship, at the bird feeder or in our homes as pets.  January 5 honors that love as National Bird Day.  The day was created in 2002 by a collaboration of the Born Free USA Foundation and the Avian Welfare Coalition.  National Bird Day is celebrated on January 5 because the annual Christmas bird count ends on this date.  The annual bird count focuses our attention on the conservation of wild native birds.  National Bird Day adds a focus on the care of captive birds, most of which are from other countries than the United States and imported to this country as pets.

Understanding how to care for captive birds requires more than providing food, water and cleaning cages.  Birds are complex creatures, with elaborate and diverse social relationships with other birds, both in their species and among species.  National Bird Day helps bird owners and admirers create the right environments for their pets and the right expectations for the bond between birds and their owners.

Perhaps more importantly, however, National Bird Day emphasizes that wild birds should remain wild.  Most exotic bird species are not domesticated, but captured from the wild.  Hence, their needs are associated with their instincts and learned behavior in the wild, not based on a history of being carefully bred to live in cages or human homes.  Also, many bird species from tropical areas are threatened by extinction because of illegal capture and trade, and many birds die cruel deaths while being smuggled across national borders.  One estimate is that 60% of wild-caught birds die in the process of being transported to markets.

About  one-quarter of the known 9,600 bird species are traded in the global wild bird market.  The largest exporters of wild birds are African countries, led by Senegal.  The largest importers of wild birds are the countries in Europe.  The U.S. once was the largest importer of wild birds, but this has fallen dramatically because of regulations enacted in the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992.

According to the National Bird Day website, about 12% of the world’s bird species are in danger of extinction.  Parrots are especially susceptible—nearly one-third of the globe’s 330 parrot species are in trouble.

References:

Avian Welfare Coalition.  January 5th, National Bird Day, More Beautiful Wild.  Available at:   http://www.avianwelfare.org/nationalbirdday/index.htm.  Accessed January 4, 2018.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization.  2011.  International trade in wild birds, and related bird movement, in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Available at:  http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i0708e/i0708e00.pdf.  Accessed January 4, 2018

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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