National Bird Day

National Bird Day is a holiday that has been celebrated on January 5th. The purpose of this holiday is to bring attention to the plight of our feathered friends, particularly birds that are not native to the United States and are captive. This holiday is also a good day to take a few moments out of your day to appreciate the beauty and diversity of these animals.

However, National Bird Day should not be confused with Bird Day—one of the oldest bird holidays in existence. Bird Day is a holiday that is celebrated annually in the United States on May 4th and has been since the late 19th century. It is a day where people can not only take the time to enjoy the many beautiful species that exist all around them but also a day to remember how important birds are to the environment.


National Bird Day has been celebrated for over a decade now. It was set up to fall on January 5th to coincide with the annual Christmas Bird Count. This bird count is one of the longest-running citizen science surveys in the world and helps to keep an eye on the health of the United States’ birds. The Christmas Bird Count lasts three weeks and focuses on native bird populations. On January 5th, the well-being of captive birds is honored as well.

Bird Day, on the other hand, goes back much further. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, Bird Day was established by Charles Babcock in 1894. At the time, Mr. Babcock was the superintendent of the Oil City, Pennsylvania school district. He started the observation of this holiday throughout the school district as a way to not only celebrate birds but to help educate his students about the importance of birds. While this holiday was meant only for the students of his district, it spread nationwide and by the early 20th century was a well-established observational holiday. This is in part due to the book that Mr. Babcock published in 1901 entitled, “Bird Day: How To Prepare For It.”

Facts About Birds

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are almost 10,000 different species of birds. Out of these species, almost 900 of them are on the verge of extinction, and 4 have been declared extinct in the wild.

Archaeopteryx lithographica is believed by scientists to be the earliest known bird. It was a transitional animal that spanned the gap between reptiles and birds and, as such, had features of both.

The largest species of bird on the planet is the ostrich. These birds can reach a height of nine feet tall and weigh up to 350 pounds. While these birds cannot fly, they can run up to 45 miles per hour.

Customs, Traditions, and Celebrations

National Bird Day can be celebrated in any number of different ways. Participants can birdwatch – either alone or in a group, and they can take part in one of the many conservation causes that exist for the preservation of birds. In schools across the U.S., children often are given the task of researching birds on this day or drawing a nice picture of birds for the classroom.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 5 Friday
Next year (2025)
January 5 Sunday
Last year (2023)
January 5 Thursday