There are a lot of different species of birds in the world. Different people have different relationships with the various species. As such, one could easily imagine that there are actually numerous Bird Days in the world, serving different purposes varying by region.
What we’re talking about is known as Bird Day, observed primarily in the United States, which is different from occasions such as International Migratory Bird Day, World Migratory Bird Day, Bird Day (UK), and several other Bird Days which do not follow the same etymology as “turkey day”.
We’ll also note that all of these are all named for our avian friends, not the late Senator Robert Byrd. The National is a bit deceptive here; For a day to technically be a National holiday, an Act of Congress is required, and there’s no evidence that has ever happened. That being said, it is popularly known as Bird Day, regardless of whatever Congress might think of that.
History of 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 wanted to advance bird conservation as a moral value and it seems that his holiday caught on. Babcock’s Bird Day is actually what is now known as International Migratory Bird Day, though it isn’t actually related to Bird Day in terms of history. Bird Day marked the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count in the mid-21st century.
However, it does seem that Bird Day is at least dedicated in part to raising awareness about birds held in captivity. Presumably that includes your Aunt Marjorie’s parrot, the penguins in the Columbus Zoo, and that turkey that made the ultimate sacrifice to grace your family’s dinner table 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. There’s also a website at Bird Day, if you want to learn more about the folks actually promoting the holiday.
How to Celebrate Bird Day
Birds are important. Many of them sing and quite a few of them look pretty. Of course, many species of birds are also eaten by humans, but we do think that it might be a little inappropriate to go quail hunting in honour of Bird Day, as delicious as quails are. On a more serious note, approximately 12 percent of the world’s bird species could face extinction in the next century. That includes nearly a third of the 330 different species of parrots.
Things don’t look a lot 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. You should celebrate the day by learning about all of the wonders of birds and educating your friends, because the survival of the world’s birds hinges on public awareness as well as support for conservation.