Less than a mile from my house is Tracy Aviary, the oldest public aviary in the U.S., which opened in 1938. It’s definitely had its ups and downs, but since receiving a large bond in 2008, it has undergone a wonderful transformation.
I hadn’t been inside the aviary for a couple of years. Since my last visit there, they’ve made a lot of changes, including adding the Owl Forest and opening the new visitor’s center. Since Wednesday was such a beautiful spring day, and there was a special price ($1 admission on Wednesdays through the end of March), we decided to take a stroll through it.
It’s definitely a pleasure to go now. The birds have much nicer habitats, and the park has a much more open feel to it.
Most of the birds are still in cages, of course, but they’re much nicer – like Andy the Andean Condor’s big new habitat (you can’t see him in the photo, but he’s on the platform at the upper right). Andy gets to go for daily walks around the aviary, and I love how he bobs around – he’s my favorite. Andy has an 11-foot wingspan, and is one of only about 10,000 remaining Andean Condors in the world. In January, he celebrated his 55th birthday. There’s a cute video of him opening his presents at his party here.
I also love to see the Hornbills. I get such a kick out of their huge eyelashes. Yesterday one of them was having fun playing with a ball. I didn’t get a photo of that one, but this guy was checking out the visitors:
The Owl Forest has paths wandering through evergreens, to give the owls a woodlands environment:
But there are also exhibits where the birds are not caged, or where they’re in large enclosures that you can enter, like the South American “backyard” exhibit, where we were entertained by this cuckoo. I love his wild hairdo.
And some are evidently escape artists. While walking along a path, a large green Macaw flew over my head. I’d noticed one earlier on the arm of an employee, and figured it was probably the same one. Oops! Then a few minutes later, it flew overhead again, and landed on top of the cage I was standing near. (It looks like it’s in the cage, but it’s really on top of it.)
An employee was trying to call it, but the bird was having none of it. We moved on, so I don’t know what happened – but hopefully he came back inside, as it was very cold that night.
One of the most amusing exhibits is this one of the Seriema birds, which evidently like to sunbathe while stretched out flat on their backs:
Unfortunately, the birds were not sunbathing while we were there, except in an upright position. Apparently they like to hunt snakes and lizards, killing them by slamming them on the ground. Here’s a video of the snake slamming technique (at a zoo with a rubber snake).
And last but not least was the colorful Larrycan: