Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The National Aviary: A Fine Feathered Treasure in Pittsburgh

Palm Cockatoo appears at the National Aviary
A curious Palm Cockatoo!
During our Spring Break vacation, we had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities--Pittsburgh! As a 7-hour drive from the Chicago area, Pittsburgh is a road trip destination to have on your radar for longer breaks. Pittsburgh has a wide range of family-friendly destinations that easily keep families busy and active rain or shine! Plus, the flavor of the city is one that will easily have you branching out from the ordinary attractions to explore more. I am excited to present the city to you over the next few days!


Ironically one of the last attractions we visited--The National Aviary--is one of the attractions I was the most impressed by. We were treated to a multi-sensory experience like no other! If you are in Pittsburgh, take some time relax while visiting with our flying friends. A peek inside The National Aviary:

Amazing up close views of birds at The National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
Breathtaking views of birds!

History of The National Aviary

The history of the Aviary is a bit interesting! The location of the Aviary originally served as the Western State Penitentiary until 1880.  In the late 1800's, the site became a conservatory which eventually burned down in the late 1920's. In the 1950's the conservatory was rebuilt including not only gardens but also birds.

The Aviary expanded to include many free-flight exhibits with an enhanced focus on conservation. When the Aviary faced possible closer, a concerned group of citizens worked together to keep it open. In 1993, Congress bestowed the honorary designation of "national" upon the Aviary. When visiting The National Aviary, we could easily see why it received such an honorable designation.

Birds and flora impress at The National Aviary.

Free-flight Rooms! Wow!

The Aviary's collection of free-flight rooms quickly had us in awe. In the past, my daughter felt apprehensive about visiting aviaries with birds flying about her. Upon entering the first free-flight room, however, she quickly learned that each free-flight room provides a magical place where you observe a variety of birds and appreciate their songs--in relative peace. Rooms introduce various climates and have handy placards that help identify the birds in the room. The birds are active but not so active that they should intimidate most children. In fact, most flew well overhead while we visited. At the same time, we benefited from unparalleled opportunities to see so many close up!

Look everywhere--in the skies, in the trees for birds at The National Aviary!
Beautiful birds are everywhere!

Flamingos resting at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.

We had quite an enjoyable time ambling through the rooms trying to spy various birds as well as listen for their calls. Staff members in each room were available to assist with any questions.

Birds in the Grasslands Room at The National Aviary.
The Grasslands provided a particularly close encounter.
The Grasslands area was a particular highlight because of the proximity of all of the birds!

Conservation Efforts

Information about conservation is found threaded throughout the Aviary. Canary's Call highlights how birds are indicators of many changes on Earth including ones caused by pollution. A very important exhibit and great way to reach out to children to learn from and observe changes in nature and their implications.

Learning about conservation at The National Aviary.
Learning about conservation.
Additionally, the Aviary is involved in many initiatives and research efforts to save endangered bird populations and restore habitat.

Other Fun

The Aviary does have additional experiences such as feedings and even encounters. There also are special bird shows every day except Tuesdays--the birds need a rest! Check the website for more details on these opportunities an costs.

Also, look for some hands-on features in exhibits and have the kiddos take a peek at the penguins from inside the exhibit!

The Penguin Exhibit at The National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
Through the tube, kids can really get a great peek at the penguins!
Overall Impressions

The National Aviary was quite a wonderful surprise! The National Aviary is not only a great place to escape our landscape for a little bit but a place to revel in immersive learning. The world of birds is so diverse with so much to learn--you cannot visit without gaining a new perspective. A truly enjoyable experience!

Disclosure: Thank you to Visit Pittsburgh for facilitating my review! Complimentary admission was receive in order for me to bring this review to you. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

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