Happy National Bird Day

Every year on January 5 is National Bird Day. This animal holiday celebrates more than 9,800 species of birds that exist around the world, their impact on the environment, as well as their physical and behavioral beauty.

Sadly, more than 12 percent of bird species are endangered, vulnerable or threatened with extinction within the next century due to factors such as the illegal pet trade, exposure to new diseases and habitat destruction. The well-being and ultimate survival of the world’s birds depends on us for conservation and education.

In nature, birds are very important because different species may disperse seeds, pollinate plants or even scavenge dead animals, helping to recycle nutrients back into the earth.

The Virginia Zoo has 38 different species of birds on grounds, ranging from cranes to cassowaries, emus to ostriches, doves to partridges, geese and owls, Rhino and Ground hornbills, and even a bald eagle. Each species of bird has its own unique habitat and set of needs to be met, and the Virginia Zoo strives to keep its birds thriving and healthy. Many of the bird species here at the Zoo are vulnerable or threatened with extinction, and 21 species are currently managed by a Species Survival Program (SSP).

The birds at the Zoo are fed special diets including insects, nuts and seeds, depending on each species’ individual dietary needs. Each bird’s enclosure has vegetation native to their natural habitat. When the weather turns colder, Zoo Keepers make sure the birds that normally migrate to warmer climates are brought inside to warmer shelter until the season changes.

The Zoo also helps migrating birds that fly past our grounds on their journey from the North to southern, warmer areas. Exhibits with windows are covered with bird tape, a special ultra-violet tape that helps birds see the glass, and not fly through it. Without the tape, birds could attempt to fly through the glass and become injured.

Happy National Bird Day to the birds at the Virginia Zoo, and all birds across the globe!