Celebrated January 5th, National Bird Day was established by bird activists to call attention to the plight of captive birds. The annual event that takes place at the end of the Christmas Bird Count season in the Americas is organized by Born Free USA in coordination with the Avian Welfare Coalition to take action on behalf of captive birds by drawing attention to the exploitation of other countries’ native birds by the U.S. pet industry.
Ohio Department of Education—in its Family and Community Engagement Section– recognizes NBD and suggests that parents share pictures of their favorite bird with their children or walk around outside and bird watch.
Why National Bird Day?
• The beauty, songs, and flight of birds have long been sources of human inspiration.
• Today, nearly 12 percent of the world’s 9,800 bird species may face extinction within the next century, including nearly one-third of the world’s 330 parrot species.
• Birds are sentinel species whose plight serves as barometer of ecosystem health and alert system for detecting global environmental ills.
• Many of the world’s parrots and songbirds are threatened with extinction due to pressures from the illegal pet trade, disease, and habitat loss.
• Public awareness and education about the physical and behavioral needs of birds can go far in improving the welfare of the millions of birds kept in captivity.
• The survival and well-being of the world’s birds depends upon public education and support for conservation.
Celebration of National Bird Day brings to mind “Sympathy” one of the best loved poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ohio-born African American poet of renown:
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opens,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats its wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting–
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings!
The closing line of this poignant work by Dunbar is the title that celebrated teacher, poet, author, Maya Angelou selects for the first in her series of autobiographies I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Listen to Tom O’Bedlam’s spoken verse recitation of Dunbar’s Sympathy:
Birds in the Bible
In reading Bible, one comes across numerous references to a wide range of birds. The blog Birds in the Bible: Bird Watching from a Christian Perspective offers extensive commentary and exquisite photography of some of these fascinating warm-blooded, feathered creatures of God’s creation. References to birds appear between Genesis and the creation of “fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” and the Book of Revelation that speaks of Babylon the Great who is ultimately inhabited “by a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Fifty-seven verses in the Bible mention birds. Some specific kinds of birds include: eagles, sparrows, hawks, doves, pheasants, vultures, ravens, peacocks, quail, falcons, pelicans, partridges, and a mother hen with her chicks.
In light of the message of National Bird Day, Psalm 127:4 relates to a captive bird:
Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
Indeed, God uses all aspects of His creation to communicate with those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
Other related websites to National Bird Day include:
- Talking Naturally which has produced a new podcast in support of National Bird Day.
- National Bird Day website –
- Avian Welfare Coalition’s ‘Avian Welfare Resource Center’ –
- Foster Parrots and the Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary
- Project Guyana
- Maipama Eco-lodge –
- ‘Fly, Parrot, Fly’ sung by Mike Schindinger –