One-Liner Wednesday – National Aviary

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

– attributed to Chief Seattle – Chief of the Duwamish Tribe

One of the things we did while in Pittsburgh was to visit the National Aviary. This zoo, dedicated exclusively to birds, and a two-toed sloth, has been on Pittsburgh’s north side since just before I was born. I remember going to the fledgling Aviary as part of a school field trip. The Aviary has grown in the 65 years it’s been open, and, although I wasn’t able to find much early history, I think its mission has changed. From their website:

As an environmental organization composed of educators, conservationists and researchers, the National Aviary’s goals are many. The Aviary aims to provide outstanding education programming for varied audiences; present the highest quality family recreational experience that a zoological institution can offer; save endangered species by preserving natural habitats; continue endangered bird breeding programs and conduct meaningful avian research; engender a sincere appreciation of nature and a respect for natural law; and instill a conservation ethic that teaches our immense responsibility as stewards of the planet.”

More than 150 of the species housed at the National Aviary are endangered in the wild. The African Penguins, the highlight of any visit to the Aviary, are critically endangered in their native South Africa and Nambia, but they are thriving in Pittsburgh.

I was speaking to one of the guides, and she was telling me about a recent exercise to match good breeding pairs to help keep this species alive. She also explained how the Aviary recently accepted some birds that had been all but wiped out in their native New Guinea, by a snake species that was accidentally introduced to the environment after arriving on a cargo ship.

Environmentalists are currently searching for a similar island where these birds can be safely reintroduced into the wild, once a sustainable population has been bred. Other birds on display, like the eagles, are injured and can no longer survive in the wild.

As with any zoo, I’m certain that some of the displays are designed to attract visitors and raise money, but I like the programs the Aviary supports, the care they provide the animals in the charge, and the educational programs they foster within their facility.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. You can follow this link to see the one-liners from the other participants.

61 thoughts on “One-Liner Wednesday – National Aviary

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    1. Thanks Judy. We love the little penguins, you just can’t help but smile. Learning about what’s happening to their natural habitat is sad though. The baby owls did peg the meter at super-cute :)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That blue bird is either a parrot or MaCaw. You took lots of good photos. I love a well done aviary. I always have mixed feelings about zoos but when they do them right and raise awarenss I enjoy them. Looks like a great visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. Zoos are sometimes hard places to visit. The Highland Park Zoo in Pittsburgh was rebuilt, years ago, to get away from the old caged-animal-for-viewing model. The Aviary has expanded several times since those grade-school field trips, and each time, they seem to try to get closer to a natural experience. It’s just sad knowing that there aren’t good natural habitats for many of these birds.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It is sad. Of course, it’s sadder still that we (humans) have introduced invasive species or destroyed habitat, resulting in them not being able to soar at all. That’s why I like the education work that these places do.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree. Down at Ponce Inlet there is a marine center where they take in injured turtles, birds and other sea animals to heal and rehabilitate them to put back out in the wetlands or ocean. They also raise sting rays and allow times for feeding them by hand. It’s a no inal fee to get in.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty birds! Love the baby owls, so cute. I’m glad that the aviary is part of a group of people that are concerned about the planet and the animals/birds that live on it. Kudos to the Aviary for keeping conservation on the forefront of their mission.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Dan, I was not aware of the National Aviary and will have to visit one of these days. Sounds like they are doing some fantastic work out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bob. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. They have really grown to focus on conservation and education. And, penguins, I mean, who doesn’t love penguins?


  4. The quote is deep. Thanks Dan.

    I have often wondered at the wisdom of keeping animals in the zoos and cages. One of the things I have learned from animal documentary videos is that animals understand the earth better than us. They are one with the planet. The least animal in the wild is more self-sufficient than the greatest human being.
    I saw a guy on YouTube boasting about his pet Gaboon Viper, which he couldn’t even touch with his own hands and had to lift out of the cage with a hooked rod. I was deeply saddened. Gaboon vipers are powerful reptiles. Camouflaged almost to the point of invisibility and injecting the largest amount of venom of all snakes, it has few predators and its meal is assured. To see it kept in a small cage, living at the mercy of a human being who doesn’t even own himself, whose quality of life is subject to instabilities of politics and stock markets and corporate greed and war and employment, and a whole universe diseases, not to mention the ever unpredictable human emotions–it is sad, indeed.
    I understand, though, that the endangered species need to be protected. And given the rate at which the human population is growing, I think all animals should be declared endangered. It is only a matter of time before their habitats are completely destroyed. Last year, the government of Kenya built a railway line across the Nairobi National Park. Environmentalists protested in vain.
    The biblical notion that humans were uplifted above all animals or the scientific one that humans evolved better than all animals–I doubt it. I doubt it a lot.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Peter. When I look at the way animals care for their young, and the way they interact with habitat, I have serious doubts about our superiority. They take what they need, no more, no waste, no damage. I’m always conflicted about zoos. That’s why I stopped to ask some of the staff members about the animals there. So many don’t have a habitat to go back to, or one that will sustain their breed. It’s sad.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I was being so careful to take pictures of the signs. Each exhibit area had signs with photos of all the birds and their names and regions. I guess I missed a few. At least you got a chuckle – thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, what a place! I normally don’t like zoos-type places, but it is nice to see people trying to help preserve endangered species.

    I think those are Steller’s Sea-eagles in your photo though, not Goldens. What impressive specimens they are! And of course, the flamingos are fabulous.

    I do want to ask though… were there signs saying those were baby owls? I honestly hate to be contrary, especially because I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty positive those aren’t owls. I don’t think there are any species of owl that don’t have a curved beak from birth, and these definitely don’t have curved beaks, or the telltale owl eyes. They actually look quite a bit like the black and white bird in your final photo though — could they be the same type of bird?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Wendy. I’m pretty sure we saw a sign saying “see the baby owls” but they could have been in a different part of that exhibit. But, we didn’t see any other babies in that exhibit. I think they have a list of newborns on their website.

      Same with the eagles, you might be right. The sign said Bald Eagles and Golden, so I just jumped to a conclusion. Don’t worry about being contrary – it’s helpful :)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always feel sorry for the eagles and hawks that have been grounded due to injury and have to spend their remaining days in a cage being looked at by people. They always look a little sad, even though birds don’t generally have facial expressions.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great photos :) I’m fond of that black and white bird with the spots, too. His face is hawkish. No idea what it is, but what a handsome birdy :)
    I’m sittin here wondering where my most local aviary is, and whether there’s a national one nearby. I’ve been to a few, but not a one of them was local. I think I’ll look it up, I bet Moo would love to go. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a fun trip. I don’t know how many there are, but I love seeing the birds. I was impressed by how much of their program is related to conservation. The people that I talked to seemed so passionate about their work.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was just thinking less than an hour ago that I don’t like to see birds (or other animals) in small cages. But an aviary or a spacious, natural-like enclosure is not so bad. Glad they have such places.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Looks wonderful and somewhere I will never visit, having something of a bird phobia. I like penguins, though.
    And I actually snorted with laughter at this bit: “This zoo, dedicated exclusively to birds, and a two-toed sloth…” Hang on, what?? Tell me about the sloth! I don’t care about the birds, tell me about the sloth! :D

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not a fan of zoos and I couldn’t even manage to keep an indoor cat … Theo needed to rule the outdoors too.
    … but sanctuaries like this are becoming increasingly more important as we systematically destroy more and more natural habitat. The stress of trying to survive is greater than the biological urge to procreate.
    My favourite photo is the baby owls. omg – soooo cute!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel much the same way, Joanne, but we do have indoor cats. Ours would never survive in the “wild” of even our back yard. We have a prowling hawk that could easily carry the little girl away. So many of the birds in the Aviary don’t have a home any longer. The Penguins are predicted to lose their habitat within 15 years. It’s just so sad.

      Totally agree about the babies in the next :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If I lived in a different area, it is highly unlikely that Theo could be an outdoor cat. Even though I live in a large city, I live in a quiet neighbourhood with very limited traffic and no predators to put a cat like Theo at risk.
        Ironically, if I lived in the country, a chubby pampered cat like Theo wouldn’t survive for long outdoors.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this Donna. It doesn’t take long to tour, and it’s a fun experience. There are lots of opportunities to interact with the birds, penguins and even the sloth, if you want to spend a big bunch of money :)


  11. You’re so funny, Dan. You’ll give some exhaustive detail about the history of a building that went up in 1837, right down to where the founder’s third grandson went to school, then post a pic of a bird and write, “I think this is a Golden Eagle.” ;D

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Like many people I have mixed feelings about zoos. Although they remain the only places where so many of us will get to see some animals for real, I always feel bad for the animals kept in captivity. But I love what so many zoos are doing to educate us, and children in particular, about the species that need our protection. The aviary project is one of them. The San Diego zoo which is kind of a model in terms of zoos offers also amazing educational programs. And smaller zoos follow in their steps all over the country. Your photos are remarkable. Would be hard to get some of these animals’ portraits away from a zoo.
    And I also love the quote about all living creatures being linked.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Evelyne. I do have mixed feelings, but their mission really seems to be one of conservation and education. I was impressed by the fact that they took in the birds from New Guinea. That’s such s sad story. It will take years to reintroduce to a new island, but that remains the goal.


  13. Whenever we visit a new city, I hope for an aviary to visit. They are among my favorite places for the same reasons you mentioned for visiting the National Aviary. Plus, I think birds are cool, not to mention a two-toed sloth.

    Liked by 1 person

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