I’ve never been what one would call a “bird watcher”. Of course if I see a bird, I’ll stop and admire it, and there are so many different kinds to appreciate, but it’s not something I deliberately head out to watch specifically. I will always stop and gaze in awe at bald eagles soaring overhead, or appreciate the speed and agility of a hawk. Seagulls will always make me laugh, woodpeckers make me wonder why they don’t need Advil, and the myriad of other birds will never cease to amaze me with how endless their varieties seem to be. I will always wonder if that line of birds sitting side by side on the telephone wires overhead are plotting an ambush the moment I walk under them, and I attempt to avoid being in their direct line of fire. That about covers it though – general admiration is what I feel for them without becoming what I would honestly term as obsessive as some of the folks who spend their lives planning their “Big Year“.* Today is the day for those folks who genuinely love birds to celebrate, because it is National Bird Day. Bird people actually get three special days each year – not sure how they managed that, but they did! The other two are simply Bird Day on May 4th, and International Migratory Bird Day on the 2nd Saturday in May.
National Bird Day is celebrated on January 5th and was organized by bird activists – something else I didn’t know we had – to call attention to the plight of captive birds. It is their intention to get people to reflect on the conditions of the birds living in captivity. (I won’t get started on my tangent on birds being born in captivity having never known any other way of life, therefore would be unable to survive in the wild – because that would take away from celebration and focus on my personal opinions about activists in general). The research done on the Holiday Insights page – along with what a quick search pulled up for me – showed that the “National” in the name of this holiday wasn’t rightly earned, as it takes an act of Congress to declare a day a National holiday – and there’s no record of that having been done here.
Bird Day is actually the oldest bird celebration day, first observed on May 4, 1894. It was started by Charles Almanzo Babcock, who was a superintendent of schools in Oil City, PA. By 1910 it was a widely celebrated day and is often observed in conjunction with Arbor Day. Bird Day and Arbor Day events overall tend to focus on conservation training and awareness.
International Migratory Bird Day – 2nd Saturday in May – celebrates the amazing journey that migratory birds take each year. They travel thousands of miles between breeding grounds in North America, and their winter homes in Central and South America. Organizers of this holiday intended this to be a day to both support and to increase awareness of conservation efforts in support of migratory birds. This day would be a good day to go on a field trip into a woods to look for and enjoy migrating birds.
On each of these Bird Days, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch and observe birds, see how they are behaving, maybe try to feed some. If you are artistic maybe try to draw a picture, and if your art leans towards photography, snap a few pictures of them. However you celebrate this day, keep in mind these creatures are amazing, and God did quite the incredible bit of work when He made them.
For myself, I am going to try to see 5 different kinds of birds today – I’ll let you know how I do.
* A big year is an informal competition among bird watchers to see who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area. There was a movie called The Big Year put out in 2011 that was surprisingly good! It was on TV one night that nothing else was on so we watched it. I’d watch it again!