The National Aviary, the only indoor, independent non-profit zoo devoted to only birds in the United States, is located in Pittsburgh's West Park in the city's North Side historic area.The bird collection at the Aviary is comprised of greater than 150 different species found throughout the entire planet. Several of these bird species are either threatened species or endangered species. Many of the numerous types of birds are seldom found anywhere else, and represent every continent with the exception of Antarctica. The National Aviary consists of many free-flight bird exhibits that guests can walk through; some provide the opportunity to hand-feed the birds.

The National Aviary is a zoo that is among the first to showcase their collection of birds in free-flight exhibits and exhibits modeled after natural habitats. The bird collection here was started in 1952, with birds being added to what was originally a plant conservatory. The aviary was first called the Pittsburgh Aviary. In 1952, the aviary became privatized. The name of National Aviary wasn't given until 1953 after the United States Congress gave the aviary honorary national status.

1.Canary's Call

Canary's Call
© National Aviary

The Canary's Call exhibit was unveiled in 2013 with the purpose of demonstrating how bird tell us about changes in nature with their calls. It was the first museum-like narrative endeavor the National Aviary ever attempted. The information displays serve to interpret the bird calls, thus enhancing the bird's stories through their calls. The Canary's Call exhibit demonstrates five important ways in which humans affect birds and their natural habitats. These five key factors are habitat loss, population, over consumption, pollution, and invasive species.

One main feature of Canary's Call is the Malayan Flying Foxes. These are gigantic fruit bats found in Asia. The species is a member of the mega-bat family. Their bodies can grow to a length of 16 inches, and possess a wingspan of six feet. Visitors can view The Malayan Flying Foxes from within a few feet of the bats.

Canary's Call includes touchscreen stations that offer guests an interactive game that emphasizes the five key focus topics of the exhibit in an uncomplicated, fun approach. In addition to the educational kiosks, there is a colossal canary cage, a custom made tree designed for the bat exhibit, and 178 back-lit panels to explain the story of the exhibit through illustrations and pictures.

Cloud Forest

Located near the Gift Shop, the Cloud Forest is an interesting exhibit that one of the National Aviary's visitors' favorite animals calls home. This animal is a Two-Toed Linnaeu's Sloth named Wookiee.

Condor Court

Condor Court is the National Aviary's more recently unveiled exhibit. Four Andean Condors reside in this extensive outdoor area. This condor species can be found in the wild from Venezuela and southwards all the way to Patagonia. With its 10-foot wingspan, the Andean Condor is one of the biggest raptors on Earth. The condor exhibit was constructed to imitate the birds' natural habitat in Ecuador. There is more than a sufficient amount of room for the condors to spread their wings and fly about. Within the exhibit are rocky ledges for the birds to perch in the air nearly 20 feet, as well as nesting cavities for the eagles.

Visitors are able to view the condors up close from the other side of expansive glass walls surrounding the viewing spaces. There is also an informational conservation kiosk, providing guests with an opportunity to learn additional information about the Andean Condor species and the National Aviary's continuous work to conserve the Andean Condors.The National Aviary is the single accredited zoo on the North American continent to have two pairs of Andean Condors on exhibit and manage the birds for breeding. In addition to the Andean Condors, there are several other birds that call the Condor Court home: a couple of Pygmy Falcon (a species among the smallest birds of prey across the globe), a pair of Cabot's Tragopan (a species of pheasant from southeast China), a Bald Eagle named Liberty.

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2.Eagle Hall

Eagle Hall
© National Aviary

Eagle Hall is home to two distinct species of eagles. These eagles are found in the wild from eastern Russia's dense forests to Africa's savannas and grasslands. The Stellar's Sea Eagles can be found in the forest of eastern Russia, as well as northern Japan and Korea. They among the largest species of eagles on Earth, with a wingspan of up to eight feet. The female Stellar's Sea Eagle is larger than the male. These eagles are often found in cooler climates, with a natural habitat with cooler summer and cold winters. They are found in climates with winter lows sometimes reaching as low as negative thirty degrees.

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From Africa are the Bateleur Eagles, often seen throughout sub-Saharan Africa in the open savannas and grasslands. This species typically feed on carrion, similar to vultures. However, they also from time to time will feed on an array of other birds, mammals, and reptiles, even venomous snakes. Unfortunately, visitors aren't able to view the Bateleur Eagles during late fall and winter due to species dislike of colder weather. A part of the Eagle Hall exhibit also includes a display for guest to compare the wingspans and height of eagle found across the globe, as well as the opportunity to compare their own “wingspan” with that of the eagles.


The Grasslands exhibit provides a natural manmade habitat for finches, plover, doves, and an array of other species that are indigenous to grassland regions around the globe. This exhibit showcases a variety of vividly colored birds, such as the Sudan Golden Sparrow, Melba Finch, Paradise Whydah, Gouldian Finch, and Shaft-Tail Finch. There are also numerous grassland plants found here including birch, dogwood, bayberry, and sea oats.

Penguin Point

The National Aviary has 18 African Penguins on display in the Penguin Point exhibit. This immersive area takes guests all the way to the scenery of South Africa's craggy shore. Guests will have the opportunity to explore an authentic penguin colony through the senses of sight, smell, and sound. Penguin Point, a large open-air area of the aviary, provides visitors with a 360-degree view of the African Penguins as they squabble, scale rocks, torpedo through water, and waddle around throughout their day to day lives.

From the other side of an acrylic-fronted pool, visitors can watch these penguins' shenanigans. Viewing is also possible from the Kids ViewTube, which goes beneath the penguin exhibit and is wheelchair accessible. The ViewTube provides views of the African Penguins from under the water as they soar through the exhibit's pool. The tube also contains “bubbles” that offer guests a chance to emerge among the penguins.

The African Penguin species is also known by the name of "jackass penguins" due to their braying, honking call. The exhibit also contains heated alcoves with nests for the penguins to congregate in during the colder days in winter. As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums African Penguin Species Survival Plan, the National Aviary participates in a diligently supervised program for breeding in order to conserve genetically diverse African Penguin populations. The National Aviary's Penguin Cam provides visitors and anyone else who loves penguins an opportunity to watch the African Penguins online from anywhere in the world. Anyone can watch these cute birds swim, eat, and waddle to their heart's content.

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3.Tropical Rainforest

Tropical Rainforest
© National Aviary

The Tropical Rainforest area of the National Aviary is among the three exhibits designed for free-flight. The exhibit gives guests with an exceptional insight into the behaviors and habits of the various species of birds that fly freely throughout the exhibit.Tropical rainforests are exceedingly diverse and complex ecosystems. These forests are an extremely imperative resource to humans. Numerous products we use or eat originate in these forests, such as cinnamon, fruits, coffee, chocolate, cashews, and plants often used in medicines. Tropical rainforests are also home to over two million species of plants and animals, about half of the living species on Earth, and provide pure oxygen to both animals and humans.Tragically, over half of the planet's tropical rainforests have been lost to cattle ranching, careless farming practices, and lumber. While the amount of tropical forests unfortunately declines, demand for its resources only continues to increase.


The Wetlands bird exhibit is another one of the National Aviary's free-flight exhibits that offers guests with an incomparable view of the birds' behaviors and habits. Among the many birds in the wetlands exhibit are Brown Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, and American Flamingos. Wetland habitats exist in nature on each continent with the exception of Antarctica. Wetlands play a crucial part in flood control, shoreline stability, and water purification. The wetlands ecosystem is home to an extensive variety of animals and plants. Of all the world's ecosystems, wetlands are thought to be the most biologically diverse. Marshes, swamps, and bogs are all subgroups of wetlands.

Education and Conservation

The National Aviary provides many different educational programs for visitors to participate in. There are on site programs for scout programs, homeschool groups, and field trips. The aviary also offers an array of classes, such as Penguin Painting and Positive Parroting among others, as well as summer and holiday camps.

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700 Arch Street, Best Things to Do in Pittsburgh, PA 15212, Phone: 412-323-7235

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