All wild birds have protected status in the US, in response to our concern over decades about their population declines. And yet that same kind of protection is not given to wild birds native to other countries when we permit trade here that impacts their lives. Even when that trade is unsustainable or inhumane.
The pet trade in the United States economically impacts many species of wild birds abroad. National Bird Day is a time for us to reflect on the fact that wild birds don't observe our national borders, and that we need to protect wild birds everywhere. Sometimes that means doing without an exotic bird from the pet shop, and shunning all trade in protected species regardless of their origin.
This year I was fortunate to observe a flock of 10 Scarlet Macaws in the coastal jungles on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Their gregarious sociality and noisy interactions while feeding were a stark contrast to what each might have experienced as a solitary bird in a cage. I reflected that the cost of my entire trip was far less than that of a single pet parrot, yet my experience was immeasurably more valuable.
Please join me this January 5th in observing National Bird Day by making a commitment to conservation.
Museum of Comparative Zoology