January 5 – Happy New Bird!

Today’s factismal: National Bird Day was first celebrated in 1894.

Before we get into the meat of today’s post, please let me apologize for my absence. A slippery patch of ice led to a sprained arm which led to more than a week in a splint. But I’m down to just a sling now, so the fun can continue!

A Yellow Beak Cardinal comes in for a landing (My camera)

A Yellow Beak Cardinal comes in for a landing
(My camera)

Just over a century ago, one of America’s leading architects had a good idea that didn’t involve bricks and mortar; instead of building am edifice, he reasoned, why not build an institution?  And the institution he built was National Bird Day. Dedicated to honoring our fine feathered friends, National Bird Day is celebrated every year on January 5 and includes such delights as bird watching, bird feeding, and (for the perversely-minded) fried chicken eating.

A blue footed booby in flight (My camera)

A blue footed booby in flight
(My camera)

A frigate bird soars over the Sea of Cortez (My camera)

A frigate bird soars over the Sea of Cortez
(My camera)

But why celebrate birds? Part of the reason is because the 9,800 species of birds are amazingly adaptable; they can be found on every continent and in every clime. There are birds that fly from pole to pole every year, and birds that never move more than a few yards. There are birds that fly for days at a time and birds that swim deep in the ocean. There are birds that make their own fresh water and birds that walk on water. Name a weird thing and there is a bird that does it (including a few that could have eaten something the size of, well, you). Despite their amazing adaptability, about 1,200 bird species are threatened with extinction.

If it weren't for scavengers like this Turkey Buzzard, we'd be neck-deep in dead stuff (My camera)

If it weren’t for scavengers like this Turkey Buzzard, we’d be neck-deep in dead stuff
(My camera)

Herring gulls looking for their next meal (My camera)

Herring gulls looking for their next meal
(My camera)

And part of the reason is because birds are the last living descendants of the dinosaurs. While most of their relatives went extinct following the Chicxulub incident, birds thrived and soon expanded to fill just about every niche that dinosaurs had filled (and some that they hadn’t). Until recently, we had thought that birds were just distant relations of dinosaurs, but thanks to improved paleontology and some spectacular fossils finds, we now realize that birds are, practically speaking, living dinosaurs.

The Hawai'ians honor the Golden Plover that led their ancestors to the isles (My camera)

The Hawai’ians honor the Golden Plover that led their ancestors to the isles
(My camera)

So go out and celebrate National Bird Day today. For some ideas on what to do, wing on over to:
http://www.nationalbirdday.com/

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