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Missouri's students are legally required to honor state birds once a year. Here's why

The day is focused on educating students about Missouri's native birds and exists alongside other "observation days" in the state.
Credit: AP
An eastern bluebird seems to dislike the winter weather while perched in a tree in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

ST. LOUIS — Most of Missouri's official "observation days" for schools are geared toward educating students about important events in state and national history, such as Missouri Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Bill of Rights Day.

But one feathery observation day stands out among the rest.

Bird Appreciation Day is neither related to politics nor a past war; instead it puts a spotlight on Missouri's native birds. The bill was signed into law more than two decades ago in 2001, and the original legislation to create the observance day was sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Steve Stoll.

"The (21st) of March shall be designated as 'Bird Appreciation Day' to be observed by elementary and secondary schools, cities, state agencies and civic organizations with activities designed to enhance the knowledge and appreciation of Missouri birds," states the law's text.

March 21 was known as "Bird Day in Missouri" from 1917–1973 until a revision in state law unintentionally wiped it off the books, according to a 2001 Kansas City Star report. The 2001 bill saw overwhelming bipartisan support with only 20 of the state's 127 representatives voting against the measure. 

Missouri's state bird has been the Eastern bluebird since 1927 and is considered a symbol of happiness, according to the Missouri Secretary of State's website.

"The bluebird typically visits Missouri from the early spring to the late fall; some areas of the state see bluebirds year round, especially in the south where they are considered permanent residents," the site said. "The birds breed in the spring and summer, and many Missourians attract the birds to their property by installing bluebird houses."

Credit: Kansas City Star

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