Today is Bird Day, one of several that are celebrated each year. This particular celebration was originated way back in 1894 by Charles Alamzo Babcock, Superintendent of Schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Mr. Babcock founded this day to advance bird conservation as a moral value. And we're so happy that that he did! Birds are awesome creatures. Birds, as most of us know, are warm-blooded creatures with wings and feathers that lay eggs. But did you realize that there are approximately 10,000 species of birds found around the world (way more than even us frogs!) Here are some other interesting facts about birds that may surprise you.
1. Scientists believe that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs. (Hummingbirds, really?)
2. Birds have hollow bones which help them fly.
3. The ostrich is the not only the largest bird, with the largest eggs, but they are also the fastest...achieving running speeds of over 97 kmp (60.27 mph)
4. Some birds are intelligent enough to create and use tools.
5. Chickens are the common species of birds in the world.
6. Kiwis are an endangered species of birds from New Zealand and they lay the largest eggs relative to their body size. They are also the only wingless bird.
7. Hummingbirds can fly backwards!
8. The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest species in the world, measuring only 2 inches in length (5 cm)
9. Nearly 20% of all bird species migrate long distances every year.
10. Homing pigeons have been used for thousands of years to carry messages.
11. The oldest bird was known as the Archaeopteryx and lived about 150 million years ago. it was the size of a raven and was covered with feathers and had wings, very similar to the birds of today.
12. The now-extinct elephant bird of Madagascar laid an egg that weighed 27 pounds (12.247 kilograms).
13. Precocial birds, like ducks, chickens, ostriches, and seagulls, are born ready to move around.
14. Altricial birds, owls, woodpeckers and most small song birds, need a lot of care from their parents in order to survive.
15. Air sacs may make up 1/5 of a bird's body volume.
16. A bird's heart beats up to 400 times a minute while resting and as many as 1000 times per minute while flying.
17. Falcons can swoop at over 200 mph (321.869 km).
18. The only known poisonous bird is the hooded pitohui of New Guinea. The poison is found in its skin and feathers.
19. The American turkey vulture helps human engineers detect cracked or broken underground fuel pipes. The leaking fuel smells like vulture food (they eat carrion) and the clustered birds show the engineers where to dig.
20. The homing pigeon, Cher Ami, lost an eye and a leg carrying a message in WW I. Cher Ami was given the Distinguished Service Cross and its missing leg was replaced with a wooden one.
Okay, so now we all know that birds are not only beautiful, but amazing creatures. How can you celebrate Bird Day? You can get outdoors and spend time watching birds. Or how about reading up on a few of your favorite species? And be sure to use #BirdDay on all your social media today. Thank you, Mr. Charles A. Babcock, for giving us day to realize the importance of birds in our world!