Funny little holidays are part of the background noise of our world. From World Nutella Day (February 5th), to National Zipper Day (April 29th), to National Eat a Red Apple Day (December 1st), most of these “holidays” are fun little distractions at best and forgettable at worst. There are, however, a few such holidays that make a real impact.
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World Parrot Day may not command the attention or excitement that a major holiday like Christmas or Halloween might, but it does serve as a neat little reminder of the beauty, wonder, and conservation needs of one of earth’s most vibrant and intelligent groups of birds.
World Parrot Day was established by the World Parrot Trust and falls on the 31st of May. It was first established in 2004 as a way of raising awareness for the plight of parrots around the world. This year’s World Parrot Day brought these awareness effort into the spotlight.
Parrots are birds belonging to the psittacine order. Most parrots share a few common characteristics. These include a strong curved bill, zygodactyl clawed feet, and vibrant plumage. Most parrot species live in tropical or subtropical climates. Parrots are known for their intelligence and sit alongside corvids as the birds which are most capable of standing up to mammals in a contest of intellect and problem-solving.
Unlike corvids, though, parrots are extremely popular pets. Their ability to mimic sounds, sometimes including human speech, tendency to bond deeply with caretakers, and striking plumage makes them a popular choice for a companion animal.
This, unfortunately, means that wild parrot populations are often seriously threatened by the pet trade. This is one of the reasons, alongside shrinking natural habitats and other hazards, that wild parrot populations around the world are imperiled. And this is what World Parrot Day is all about.
The World Parrot Trust’s May 2023 issue highlights the challenges and successes of several parrot species in the face of these threats. For those who are not aware of the dire conservation status of many parrot species, this kind of awareness-raising is crucial.
World Parrot Day is a great chance to reflect, not just on the plight of psittacines around the world, but on the responsibilities of humanity and the impacts of outreach and citizen science campaigns. In the last few years, more and more people have begun to get involved with birdwatching and I, and many other bird enthusiasts, are hopeful that this increased interest will evolve into a shared sense of duty. The stewardship of earth’s wildlife is humanity’s calling and it is certainly a holiday-worthy cause for celebration.