• Aashay Bhogte

National Bird Day

The National Bird Day in United Kingdom is celebrated on the 5th January every year to raise awareness on birds and their conservation. It is a rather recent development, from early in the 21st century. And today on this occasion, we bring to you this release on the National Bird Day!

From growing together with the nature and the environment to shaping the modern day human-society, we have transcended all the other living species and twisted the way evolution has taken shape. And though late than never, we have also developed an interest towards preservation of the natural order. We have studied the various species on our planet and charted the evolution of almost every living thing in a quest to trace our origin story. One of these interesting species are birds. The avians since the origins of humans, have been an important species. As wanderers and foragers, the birds helped us to navigate for food. Ravens and vultures who were scavengers also led humans to some easy meals -this was back when humans were not the apex predators. When humans started settling and started farming, birds were domesticated as poultry animals for food and eggs. When the humans decided to venture to the seas and discover new lands, navigatory birds gave hope and also guidance to these sailors.

Thus the human bond with birds grew quite deep. But the relationship has been mostly one sided. Humans have taken advantage of what benefited them and not really given back. This is visible in the case of the poor Dodo bird, a classic example of how greedy humans relentlessly exploited on what nature gifted them and drove an entire species of birds to extinction within years. Humans have also directly driven some other species of birds to extinction by referring to them as “pests”. The common house sparrow for example, had been almost extinct in a lot of parts of the African continent due to large-scale killing of sparrows by farmers over sparrows feeding excessively on agricultural produce. Even in poultry, it is a common practice to kill the male chick at birth (chick culling) because the male chicken neither lays eggs, nor is it suitable for meat. However this is only scratching the surface of the damage humans have caused to birds. Deforestation has not only caused destruction of a lot of bird nests but has also led to the loss of habitats. Global warming is slowly causing the loss of liveable territory for Penguin colonies in Antarctica. And there are a lot of other indirect ways such as the eradication of entire insect species due to climate change, affecting the food chains of many a species of birds. Climate change combined with pollution has affected the probability of eggs hatching. The list goes on and on, and will only lead to opening another can of worms.

However looking back at our previous mistakes, we have decided to change the way we have been treating this free and tiny form of life. We have realised now that birds are meant to fly free and not kept in cages. Governments across the globe too have struck the hammer on smuggling of birds. Nations have started celebrating National Bird days to spread the importance of conservation. In the USA, it is celebrated in May. Developing nations like India too, celebrate national bird day to conserve endemic species of birds and the national bird day is celebrated on the birthday of the renowned Indian ornithologist Salim Ali. In the UK, the National Bird Day is observed as a day of spreading awareness. Hunting, an age old practice has driven several species of “game” birds to extinction. Further since industrialisation has begun, climate change due to pollution has put many species including those of birds on the brink of extinction. The latter is an early indicator of the slow poison and the tail bite effect which climate change can cause. A lot of bird species are ecologically sensitive, and erosion of such species is a litmus test that climate change is a severe price to pay for modernisation.

Ornithologists across the globe sincerely research and study the cause-effect relationships between climate change and the extinction of bird species. Activists and nature conservationists carry on them the duty to pass this information to everyone else so that slowly with the power of volumes, we can, en masse, do our bit towards conserving our planet and the various forms of life. So wishing everybody happy birding on this National Bird Day!





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