The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Located in West Park on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, the National Aviary’s diverse collection comprises more than 600 birds representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild.

When the ordinary family moved from Illinois, we lamented moving away from the Morton Arboretum, especially since we had just renewed our membership for two years. But members enjoy reciprocal privileges from other gardens around the United States – among them, the National Aviary. Yesterday, the Rainbow House of Learning took a field trip to the aviary.

What a wonderful trip for a bunch of bird lovers: five hours of exhibits, shows and bird feedings! I took nearly 250 photos, but you don’t have to see them all…

The greeters

These birds greeted us when we arrived (and sent us on our way at the end of the day).

The wetlands

After the flamingo story time, we visited the wetlands exhibit for the show at feeding time. (We enjoyed the show so much that we went again in the afternoon.) As part of the show, visitors are invited to help feed the birds – a big highlight. Some of the birds of the wetlands…

The rainforest

We had the chance to see another feeding in the rainforest exhibit, although I missed most of it. (More on that later.) But again, beautiful birds were plentiful.

I was especially excited to see the fairy bluebird. Of the non-North American birds, it’s the only one that I’ve seen in its native environment.


The girls looked forward to our visit to the lorikeet exhibit, knowing that they’d have a chance to feed these pretty birds.

I just got distracted by the roll of toilet paper.

Is spring in the air?

In the rainforest and then again in the wetlands, we encountered some birds that were feeling rather… um… “frisky”. First, the male Great Argus wanted to demonstrate to the female just how great he was…

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I took this little video of the ongoing efforts of the male to impress the female. In the process, I missed the feeding of the rest of the rainforest birds (you can hear that in the background).

Toward the end of the video, you can hear a woman say to her daughter…

You know what that bird’s doing? It’s showing off. It’s saying, “Look how beautiful I am. Don’t you want to be my friend?”

I’d have to say that he wants to be “more than friends”.

Later on in the wetlands, the wattled curassow started doing the same thing. We liked the wattled curassow, because he provided some fun pictures.

And then some fun video…

Other notes

The birds gifted me with good luck…

Good luck at the aviary
Good luck at the aviary

I made a new friend. I tried to get his picture while he was on my shoulder, but Ordinary Spouse got a better one…

Of course, when you take 250 photos, you’re going to get some duds. At the aviary, many of them happened when I tried to capture images of feeding birds in flight…

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There was a negative review on Google+ complaining that the aviary was “gross” and had a “predictable smell”, to which I respond, “Get outside much? Ah – no. You have a coat and tie.” My review would be very enthusiastically positive.

This was not our aviary experience.Finally, what makes this the “National” Aviary? It is the largest aviary in the country and was given the “National” designation by congress in 1993. Although the designation doesn’t come with any funding, it does make fund-raising easier. (The effort to become the National Aviary was modeled on Baltimore’s successful campaign to have their aquarium recognized in a similar fashion more than a decade earlier.)

In conclusion…

Birds above: