It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superm— wait, no, it’s definitely a bird.
The Smithsonian is reopening the renovated Bird House at the National Zoo. The public is invited to flock over and visit their fine feathered friends on Monday, March 13, when the exhibit fully takes flight.
If you can’t wait that long, National Zoo members get a preview from March 3 to March 12.
The revamped exhibit showcases migratory songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds from North, Central, and South America.
The first aviary that visitors will soar through shows shorebird migration and seasons at the Delaware Bay. There are two saltwater pools and two freshwater pools. In addition to the shorebirds, there are live horseshoe crabs and native fish.
After that is the Prairie Pothole and its waterfowl, which replicates a region of the upper Midwest. There are plenty of ducks quacking away there.
And last, but not least, is the Coffee Farm aviary where songbirds sing in the branches and canopies of trees that grow above coffee plants.
Outside is a plateau area with birds from the Western hemisphere, like barred owls, though the zoo warns that some outdoor exhibits will still be under renovation when the Bird House reopens.
All of the aviaries were designed to copy the natural ecosystems that the birds hail from, the National Zoo said in a news release announcing the reopening. The fowl will fly free around visitors to the Bird House.
There are several goals for the renovated exhibit. Key among them is showing how important it is to preserve the birds’ homes, as well as teaching visitors how to be bird-friendly in their own backyards.
“Now more than ever, raising awareness about the plight of migratory birds is key to their survival,” Zoo Director Brandie Smith said in the release.
“As visitors walk through our spectacular aviaries and see these beautiful birds up close, I want them to appreciate the awe-inspiring journeys these animals make every year and walk away with the desire and knowledge to protect birds and their shrinking habitats.”
The zoo said more than 170 individual birds will be inside at the reopening, all representing 56 different species. Another 16 species will be found in the surrounding outdoor area.
“Rather than wait and see what fate holds for migratory birds, our team is proactively studying their husbandry, nutritional, and reproductive needs while they’re still common,” Bird House Curator Sara Hallager said.
“As populations decline drastically in the wild, the possibility of bringing them into human care to save their species becomes more real. We can’t wait until numbers have dwindled to a few hundred or dozen individuals,” she said.
The Bird House, built within the walls of the 1928 Bird House, closed at the beginning of 2017 for its six-year, $69 million renovation project. According to the National Zoo, more than 80 percent of the masonry walls were retained to minimize its carbon footprint. LEED certification is expected to take place six months after the Boeing-sponsored reopening.
Find more information on visiting and reserving free timed-entry passes online.
Featured photo courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo
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