January 5 is here, which means so is 14th Annual National Bird Day! Birds have long inspired us with their beautiful chirping songs and feathered wings and it’s time we give back to these majestic creatures. Close to 12 percent of the 9,800 species of birds in the world face extinction within the next century due to illegal pet trade, disease and habitat loss, and the 330 parrot species are at even more of a risk at 1/3 facing extinction. Birds are essential for helping us measure ecosystem health and for detecting environmental problems, and public awareness and support for conservation are crucial for keeping birds both in captivity and in the wild in the best state of health. National Bird Day is a Big Deal, so this Tuesday consider thinking outside of the cage.
This year, helping can be as easy as not sharing a video on social media. Born Free USA in conjunction with Avian Welfare Coalition is asking popular websites and the public to refrain from hitting the share button on videos of birds in captivity because it subconsciously promotes the idea birds are domesticated pets, when in reality birds are wild animals whose emotional and physical needs go far beyond what can be met in captivity. You can take the Captive Bird Videos Pledge anytime before January 12 and promise not to share videos of captive “pet” birds on social media. Plus, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed Raffi CD. You can also do something as simple as minimizing the chance of birds flying into the windows of your home. By installing frosted or etched windows, hanging ribbon to create movement, or even keeping drapes and blinds over windows whenever possible can reduce the chance of birds seriously hurting themselves.
Born Free USA recognizes there are a large number of birds in captivity that can’t be returned to the wild, so they’ve compiled a list of 10 things pet owners can do to improve the welfare of their birds. The site recommends a varied diet of seeds, grains, beans, vegetable and advises pet owners to stay away from chocolate, avocado, human junk food and caffeine. The site also suggests buying a variety of toys to keep your bird busy and engaged, and if you buy from BirdyBooty, your money will go towards supporting bird rescue. Plenty of socialization with other birds and/or caretakers is also key, Born Free USA claims. For more information, check out the full list of 10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Bird Happy.
Want to take it a step further? The National Bird Day website has set-up six ways for the public to learn and spread the word about birds and are also making an effort to ask Petco and PetsMart to not sell birds in their stores. On their website, you can play and take a bird call quiz and/or order a poster or e-postcard to post at your local animal shelter or online. There is also a downloadable coloring contest picture and teaching material to host and teach kids and students about birds and get them excited about conservation. If you’d like to donate to Born Free USA’s Global Field Projects that protects African gray parrots in Cameroon and scarlet macaws in Honduras, they have links to either project. Or, you can ask the mayor of your town or city to recognize National Bird Day on January 5; a sample letter and proclamation are available for download.
Want to team up with fellow bird enthusiasts? Email [email protected] to be added to their list of participants and team up for planned leafleting and tabling events.