(This is part of a series of things that I should have recorded in 2013 – things which were highlights of the year, but which didn’t get recorded when they were fresh in my mind. Now you mostly just get pictures.)
January 26 – Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Shortly after our trip to Black Rock, I took the girls to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. (It must have been Field Trip Week at the Rainbow House of Learning!) We spent the entire day and had a great time. The bad news is that my pictures are poor. The good news is that my parents gave us a family membership to the Carnegie Museums for Christmas. Expect more pictures!
Middle Daughter was also taking pictures that day. Being the aspiring ornithologist that she is, she took about 70 pictures (yes – 70!) of the museum’s bird collection, including the family favorite – the ivory-billed woodpecker.
(This is the first in a series of things that I should have recorded in 2013 – things which were highlights of the year, but which didn’t get recorded when they were fresh in my mind. Now you mostly just get pictures.)
January 22-24 – Family mini-vacation
In January, we traveled to Black Rock Retreat (a Mennonite camp in eastern Pennsylvania) for an overnight homeschool program. And since we were in the area, we added stops at the Herr’s Snack Factory, Wilbur Chocolate, a Hampton Inn (because we like staying there and because they had an indoor a pool to test out Middle Daughter’s underwater camera), and the Pennsylvania capitol building.
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…
These birds greeted us when we arrived (and sent us on our way at the end of the day).
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…
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…
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…
The birds gifted me with good luck…
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…
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.
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.)
- Keel-billed toucan
- American flamingo
- Steller’s sea eagle
- Bald eagle
- Hadada ibis
- White-tailed trogon
- Blue-bellied roller
- Roseate spoonbill
- Brown pelican
- Golden conure
- Wattled curassow
- Hyacinth macaw
- Great Argus
- Fairy bluebird
- Victoria crowned pigeon
- Common grackle
- Inca tern