Bird Day – Celebrate All Year

Although there are several Bird Days celebrated around the world, any day is a good day to celebrate birds.

Birds are beautiful, musical, important denizens of nature, fascinating to watch, and eat insect pests (they also eat my wildflower seeds). Oh, and they can fly.

Egret in Marsh - Photo: Author's Son AdamDuring our short wet time, egrets can be seen in the marshy areas. They are tall, bright white birds, elegant in flight and on the ground. There is no hiding for the egret. It seems to stand there and say, “I am proud to be me” or maybe “look at me, look at me”. The egret is my favorite bird. My son Adam took the egret photo for my website header and this one.

The First Bird Day

Professor Charles A. Babcock, Superintendent of Schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania, is credited with initiating the first Bird Day on May 4, 1894. His book, Bird Day: How to Prepare for It, published in 1901, shares the history of the Bird Day movement, value of birds, destruction of birds, and a study plan for school children.

Bird Painting by Louis Agassiz Fuertes - Library of CongressAt the time, bird feathers, skins, and sometimes entire bodies were used to ornament hats and other articles of clothing. Millions of birds were being killed for fashion and bird habit was being lost as more land was cleared for development.

In order to build upon student’s interest in learning about birds and sharing their observations, Professor Babcock introduced a study plan that began in January and culminated on Bird Day in May.

The founder of Arbor Day, J. Sterling Morton, the Audubon Society, ornithologists, and other bird lovers supported and advocated for Bird Day.

National Bird Day

January 5, 2013, marked the 11th anniversary of National Bird Day, an initiative of Born Free USA, an animal welfare, and wildlife conservation organization. The purpose of National Bird Day is to inform the public and advocate for wild and pet bird welfare.

International Migratory Bird Day

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) was created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology to educate people about migratory birds, their importance in the environment, hazards they face, and ways to protect them.

Life Cycles of Migratory Birds - Art by Barry Kent MacKay for Environment for the AmericasThe first IMBD was celebrated in 1993 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversaw the event from 1995 until 2007 when the nonprofit Environment for the Americas assumed responsibility for coordinating International Migratory Bird Day.

Generally, IMBD is celebrated the 2nd Saturday in May in the U.S. and Canada, and the 2nd Saturday in October in Mexico, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean.

IMBD events are hosted by bird clubs, local, state, and national parks, schools, zoos, and community groups. Events range from bird walks to education programs, to festivals. In 2012, there were over 500 registered events.

World Migratory Bird Day

To build on the success of International Migratory Bird Day, mostly observed in the Americas, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was created for the rest of the world in 2006 by the Secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

World Migratory Bird Day is observed the 2nd weekend in May. In 2012, more than 250 events were registered in 81 countries around the world.

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Arbor Day 2013 – Plant a Tree

People Planting Trees in Cowichan Bay, BC, CanadaOn Arbor Day, April 26, 2013, channel your inner Lorax by planting a tree. Celebrate National Park Week by taking part in a National Park tree planting activity.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” —Chinese Proverb

Arbor Day History

In 1854, Julius Sterling Morton moved from Detroit, Michigan to stake a claim in the Nebraska Territory, and became the editor of the Nebraska City News. He served as Secretary of the Nebraska Territory, on the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture, and as the 3rd U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Beautiful, Big Chestnut TreeMr. Morton advocated planting trees for their beauty and practical value as windbreaks, fuel, building materials, and shade. At a Nebraska State Board of Agriculture meeting, he proposed a tree-planting holiday called “Arbor Day” with prizes offered to individuals and counties for planting the most trees. The idea was approved and the first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872. Nearly a million trees were planted that day.

Arbor Day spread from Nebraska to other states and countries. The last Friday in April is a common day to observe Arbor Day, however, dates vary by region to coincide with the best tree-planting weather.

Arbor Day Foundation

Arbor Day Foundation LogoThe nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation was founded in 1972 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Arbor Day and carry on its tree-planting mission.

“We inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees”

Since its inception over 40 years ago, the Arbor Foundation has grown and expanded.

Tree City USA

The Arbor Day Foundation promotes planting and caring for trees in towns and cities through its Tree City USA program.

Nature Explore

Nature Explore is a collaborative effort with Dimensions Educational Research Foundation to connect kids with nature.

Arbor Day Farm

The 260-acre Arbor Day Farm is home to the Tree Adventure® education and entertainment park, Apple House Market, and Lied Lodge and Conference Center.

Other Programs

Other Arbor Day Foundation programs include Tree Line USA, Tree Campus USA, Rain Forest Rescue, Arbor Day Awards, Disaster Recovery Campaigns, and a volunteer portal.

Visitors to the Arbor Day Foundation website can learn about programs and corporate sponsors, shop for trees, shade grown coffee, apparel, publications, and videos, sign up for membership, or make a donation.

United States National Tree – The Oak Tree

Vote for America’s National Tree

In 2001, the Arbor Day Foundation hosted an online poll asking people to vote for one of 21 candidate trees to become America’s national tree. The oak tree was the winner, followed by the redwood, dogwood, maple, and pine.

United States National Tree Legislation

In 2003, Virginia Congressman, Bob Goodlatte, introduced Bill H.R. 1775 to designate the oak tree as the national tree of the United States. The legislation was passed by Congress in 2004.

The United States Code – National Tree

The United States Code contains the general and permanent laws of the United States and is published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Government Printing Office maintains digital copies that may be viewed by the public.

Bicentennial Oak Tree in Bob Woodruff Park Plano, TexasThe National Tree, the Oak is now part of the United States Code:

  • Title 36 – Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations
  • Subtitle I – Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
  • Part A – Observances and Ceremonies
  • Chapter 3 – National Anthem, Motto, Floral Emblem, March, and Tree
  • Sec. 305 – National Tree
  • The tree genus Quercus, commonly known as the oak tree, is the national tree.

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