Jan. 5 is National Bird Day
Perhaps more than any other class of animal, birds have been a source of inspiration for humans: their beauty, their songs, their flight.
In our longing to be like them, we invented the airplane; early experiments had wings that flapped. Centuries ago, the now-extinct Anasazi people of the American Southwest believed the soul took the form of a bird as it left the body at death.
Today — thanks to disease, loss of habitats, and the illegal pet trade — nearly 12 percent of the world’s nearly 10,000 bird species face extinction by the end of this century, including one-third of the world’s 330 species of parrots.
National Bird Day sponsors Born Free USA and the Avian Welfare Coalition believe that, unlike domestic dogs and cats — who diverged from their wild ancestors tens of thousands of years ago — birds are inherently wild and cannot be domesticated.
They ask people “to look at captive bird species from a different point of view: their point of view. Think twice before watching and sharing an online video of a captive bird; while they may be cute to you, these videos often showcase birds who are confused, frustrated, lonely, or distressed. These are birds living unfulfilled lives, even in homes where they are loved and pampered.”
“While possibly entertaining to some, videos of captive parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, and others inadvertently promote the myth that birds are domesticated pets. The reality is that birds are wild, intelligent animals with emotional and physical needs that cannot be met in captivity.”
At the same time, they believe that public awareness and education “can go far in improving the welfare of the millions of birds kept in captivity” and that the “survival and well-being of the world’s birds depends upon public education and support for conservation.”
To that end, the National Bird Day website is full of educational and promotional materials. “Due to the large number of birds living in captivity which cannot be returned to the wild and the limited space available in avian sanctuaries, optimizing care of birds held in private hands can go far in reducing suffering and improving the welfare of captive birds.”