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National Bird Day 

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still, and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

These are the words of the American memoirist, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou writing in1969 about a life of oppression and despair.

The words perfectly describe the experience of a caged bird longing for its own freedom, and the anguish and stress millions of birds plucked from the wild or bred in captivity for a life of confinement experience, as they long to be able to fly free as nature intended.

Our desire to keep caged birds comes from other aspects of their nature; their natural beauty and their incredible song. Birds have evolved the most incredible displays of feathers often rich in form and colour, and methods of communicating that have literally become ‘music to our ears’. Yet rather than us being content with leaving them in the wild to be observed and admired, we capture, breed, trade and incarcerate them to live in our homes for our own pleasure.

Many millions of birds are plucked from their wild homes, flying onto branches laced with glue or caught in ‘invisible’ mist nets, stuffed into carriers and transported often illegally across borders, many dying in the process. Social birds are often isolated from their conspecifics, and provided with few if any opportunities to open their wings let alone fly freely for the remaining days of their lives. Depriving them of both freedom and the comfort they crave from being with others.

To make matters worse, the rarer the species become the more demand there can be to ‘own’ and ‘cage’ individuals feeding the spiral of loss and deprivation.

National Bird Day is the inspiration of the Avian Welfare Coalition in the USA. A campaign to reduce the suffering of birds by raising public awareness of the destructive bird trade, and the realities of cruel bird breeding mills. 

On this day we support the work of the Avian Welfare Coalition and celebrate the work of all individuals and organisations working to end this cruel trade. This includes the work of our own Indonesian partner organisation, FLIGHT, who since 2018 have rescued and released hundreds of thousands of wild birds destined for bird markets in Indonesia and beyond.

And we appeal to everyone to ensure that birds remain in the wild, living and not longing for their freedom.

For details of how you can help ‘keep birds in the wild’ please visit FLIGHT 

Please also see this short Guardian film documenting Chinese activist Gu Xuan, a young conservationist, and his determination to break this cycle of death and destruction, and set the birds free ‘Uncaged - saving China’s songbirds from the poachers nets

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