What are the most important days for someone who loves birds to remember?


Birding and Bird Watching HolidaysThis question that came to me during Global Big Day 2017. This is an event sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that invites everyone from around the world to look for birds on the same day every year and submit their observations to eBird.


Global Big Day is a lot of fun, supports a great cause and unites bird watchers from across the globe. The event is publicized and promoted and is a great day that helps grow the number of people interested in birds.


But it got my wheels turning.

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As someone who enjoys birds, what other dates and events did I need to recognize, celebrate and take part in through the year?


Birding and Bird Watching CalendarI wondered what days are considered bird watching holidays?


Or what days were dedicated to certain species of birds as “awareness days”?


After a lot of research and browsing the internet I did my best to come up with a Birding Holiday Calendar for the year.


I focused on days, events and holidays that are worldwide. I know a lot of regional festivals that take place everywhere, but the local “Buzzard Day” in Hinckley, Ohio is incredible for those of us who live in Ohio but not for someone who lives in California or Canada.


Enjoy! Please offer more bird watching holiday suggestions in the comments section below.


The Birder’s Calendar:



The Great Backyard Bird Count

When: February 16-19th, 2018

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Participation is easy!  You just need to observe birds for as little as 15 minutes on one or more days of the four-day event. Then submit your checklist to eBird or birdcount.org.

Everyone is encouraged to take part, from beginning bird watchers to the experienced. You don’t even need to leave home! How easy!

The best part? The data collected from the submitted checklists are used by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society to learn more about birds and provide insights on how to protect them.

It’s also something to look forward to in the cold winter months before the spring migrants arrive!

Learn More: The Great Backyard Bird Count


Draw a Picture of a Bird Day

When: April 8th (same day every year)

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At first glance, this day seems very silly and hard to believe it exists.

Bird Watching Holiday - Draw a Bird DayBut it actually has a cool story behind it.  Check out this site to read.

It’s now a day dedicated to taking joy in the simplest of things. I think we could all use more of that.

Unfortunately, The only person I can impress with my drawings is my daughter. The picture seen here is straight from my talented hands.


Learn More About This Birding Holiday: Draw a Bird Day


World Penguin Day

When: April 25th (same day every year)

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A day that is dedicated to bringing awareness to the threats that penguins face at the bottom of the world brought on by climate change. As my favorite bird, I think they absolutely deserve a holiday!

The April 25th date marks the approximate beginning of the northward migration of Antartica’s penguins (Emperor, Adélie, Chinstrap, Macaroni and Gentoo).

If you are interested in Antarctica’s penguin, I suggest you check out the conservation group Oceanites who are doing a lot of great work to bring awareness to what is happening to penguins. This year they released their first annual “State of Antarctic Penguins Report- 2017”.

On a side note, because penguins are so awesome they get two holidays; January 20th is set aside as Penguin Awareness Day, and it seems to have the same goals as World Penguin Day.

My favorite way to celebrate World Penguin Day?

Easy! Have a bourbon and watch my favorite movie: “March of the Penguins.”

John James Audubon’s Birthday 

When: April 26th (Same day every year)

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It’s hard to have a list of bird and bird watching holidays without including the birthday of birding legend John James Audubon.

He is best known for spending the better part of his life roaming North America, drawing and documenting the native bird species and turning it into a masterpiece called “Birds of America.”

His efforts have helped make him one of the founding fathers of the modern birding movement. The National Audubon Society was even named in his honor.

Happy Birthday Mr. Audubon! I will take a walk in the woods to celebrate!


Please be advised that all three birding holidays in May always occur very close to the same day (second Saturday). Mid May looks busy for birders!

World Migratory Bird Day

When: May 10th (Same day every year)

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Just initiated in 2006, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an annual awareness campaign for migratory birds and their habitat.

World Migratory Bird Day - Birding HolidayMigratory birds face unique threats because many travel across multiple countries to reach their destination. Just think how complicated conservation can become.

One country may outlaw hunting a specific threatened species and conserve lots of habitats, but as soon as it flies out of the country, it may get shot and trapped.

WMBD is celebrated all around the world and there have been events in at least 135 countries. Each event is unique and celebrated close to May 10th each year.

The past activities included bird watching tours, workshops, festivals, painting competitions and fundraisers to raise money to support this cause.

So what’s the difference between International Migratory Bird Day (above) and WMBD? 

  • While they do have similar missions, International Migratory Bird Day only focuses on Western Hemisphere countries (USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean). WMBD is a worldwide event.

Learn More: World Migratory Bird Day

Global Big Day:

When: May 12, 2018 (Second Saturday of May)

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Global Big DayHosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Global Big Day encourages everyone from around the world to submit at least one checklist to eBird on this date.


A big day is defined as trying to see as many species of birds in a day as possible. The goal of Global Big Day is to see how many species of birds everyone in the world can see on the same day.


For exaEbird - Global Big Daymple, on Global Big Day 2016 there were a total of 6632 species of birds spotted around the globe!


To participate, all you need to do is go birding that day and submit a checklist to eBird!

Learn More: The Cornell Lab – Global Big Day


International Migratory Bird Day:


  • The second Saturday of May in the US and Canada

  • The second Saturday of October in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.


International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) celebrates the amazing natural event of migration.
International Migratory Bird DayWhen birds migrate thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes, they face unique challenges. For example, governments have different attitudes toward conservation, habitat loss, people shooting at them in the sky, etc.


IMBD promotes awareness and conservation of migratory birds and their habitats throughout the Western hemisphere. The goal is to engage and educate the public about maintaining healthy bird populations and protecting vital habitat used by migrating birds.


Celebrate by finding an event at your local zoo, museum, bird festival or bird organization.


Important Note: The official day for IMBD is the second Saturday of May or October, depending on location. BUT, the IMBD website says that due to varying migration schedules of birds that they don’t honor a set day anymore, just the year.


Learn More: International Migratory Bird Day



International Owl Awareness Day

When: August 4 (Same day every year)

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Owl Awareness DayWhat:

International Owl Awareness Day is dedicated to recognizing some of the threats that different species of owls face around the world. It’s also a day to celebrate the awesomeness of owls.


There are no official events or website, but do some searching, and you will find many local groups and organizations put on events or demonstrations related to owls.



National Hummingbird Day

When: September 2nd (always the first Saturday in September)

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Bird Holidays - National hummingbird dayThe hummingbird is one of the most recognizable, unique and popular birds across the world. Millions of people go to great effort to attract them to their yard either by putting out feeders or planting hummingbird-friendly plants.

National Hummingbird Day is an awareness day set aside to celebrate these fun little birds.

There are no official events, but look for local groups putting together educational activities such as the best way to set up a hummingbird feeder!


International Vulture Awareness Day

When: September 9th (always the second Saturday in September)

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The purpose of International Vulture Awareness Day is to raise awareness for the unique threats facing vultures around the world.

Birdwatching Holidays - International Vulture Awareness DayUnfortunately, Vultures tend to get a bad reputation from media and movies! Many people dismiss the ecological importance of vultures due to the negative stereotypes that have been created.

But who else is going to eat decaying animal carcasses? By cleaning up these messes, it helps prevent the spread of disease.

Look for events from your local bird organization, zoo or wildlife park.

Learn More: International Vulture Awareness Day



The Big Sit!

When: October 7-8, 2017

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Birding Holidays - The Big Sit!

Started by the New Haven Bird Club and hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Big Sit! Is an annual event and anyone, anywhere in the world can participate.

The rules are simple: You and your team have 24 hours to see as many bird species as possible.

The catch?

You have to create an imaginary circle that is 17 feet in diameter. Only birds observed inside that circle count for the competition (hence the name The Big Sit!).

Hang out, grill out, chill out or raise money for your club or organization! This can be a really fun event.

Learn More: The Big Sit!


The Audubon Christmas Bird Count

When: December 14 to January 5th every year.


It is one of the most significant birding events of the year!

Birding Holidays - Audubon Christmas Bird CountBeginning in 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition – to count as many birds as possible! The culture before 1900 was to go out and kill them all!

Fast forward to present day. Every year between December 14 to January 5th, thousands of people across North American flock outside to brave the cold winter to count birds.

I have personally participated in my local Audubon chapter, and it’s a lot of fun! The data gathered over 100 years has also been helpful and provided lots of information to conservationists.

Learn More: The Audubon Christmas Bird Count

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Thanks for reading this far. But I am curious…

What is your favorite bird watching holiday?


Are there any birding holidays that I missed?


I would love to keep adding to this list. Please use the comments below to answer these two questions.




Happy Birding!



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