Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)
One of the special privileges at the National Aviary was the behind the scenes places we were allowed to visit. Sarah, the “Bird Nurse” (Head Keeper of Hospital Care), that we had met the day before, and Steven, the Director of Animal Programs, gave us a grand tour. (See Introduction)
Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan petted by Lee
We started off by visiting the “Geriatric Hospital” where the retired or aging bird’s care is provided. We met, Jamie, the Vetenarian Technician, who works with the birds also. We met “Skippy”, the 23 year old Black-necked Stilt. There were other birds there like, “Gracie”, a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, which I got to scratch her head. She had performed well over the years, but now is retired. Other retirees were “Smiley”, the White-tailed Trogan; “Stevie”, the Boat-billed Heron; “Hermie”, the Montezuma Oropendola; a Blue-naped Mousebird, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Black-naped Oriole, Goldie’s Lorikeet, Spangled Cotinga, Superb Starling, Collared Kingfisher and one or two others that I missed writing down. My excitement was way up there.
National Aviary Hospital X-ray and Surgery
Down in the basement also was their hospital area where they do any surgery and take x-rays. It was quite well equipped and the physical needs of all the aves that live at the National Aviary are well provided for.
Steven, the Director, then met us and took up to the 2nd floor where his “pride and joy” are housed. That is where the breeding birds were kept. As you may know, many of the zoos and aviaries goal is to help preserve species that are endangered or close to extinction. Not all the birds being bred there were in those categories. The were pairs of Blue-fronted Amazon Parrots, Green Aracaris, Grossbeak Starlings, Cape Thicknees, Palm Cockatoos, Turquoise-fronted Amazons, Golden-crested Mynas, Bali Mynas and Rainbow Lorikeets. Wow! Saw all of them close up. What a thrill.
Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum) Breeding Room by Lee
During that day and the next, we also visited the regular aviary hospital and some more “behind the scenes” places. At the Hospital, Sarah showed us some of her current patients like the Black-headed Woodpecker, Pearl-sided Owlet, Call Duck (broken wing), Runner Duck (broken hip), Rhinoceros Hornbill, Micronesian Kingfisher, White-crested Laughingthrush, and a Silkie Chicken.
Who gives food to all flesh, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalms 136:25 NASB)
All of these birds and the one mammal (2-toed Sloth) need to eat. Do they ever eat well! In the Kitchen area they were preparing the next meal for them. Wow! What great looking fresh fruits and vegetables were being prepared. Of course, there are different kinds of bird foods and seeds. We were shown the different crickets, worms and “Super Worms” which are the “worm of choice” by many of the avian eaters. The fresh and frozen “meat” (mouse, chicken, fish, etc.) are kept in walk-in coolers and freezer. These feathered critters are well supplied with their daily bounty.
What an amazing place and honor to be shown so many areas of the National Aviary. Our hearty thanks to Steven, Sarah, Jamie, and all the trainers and staff that made our visit “super special.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:32-34 NASB)
Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. (Psalms 150:2 NASB)
Hope you enjoy the slide show below. Not all the photos are great, but they will give you an idea of what the visit was like. FABULOUS!
National Aviary, Pittsburgh, PA
Happy Birthday – Skippy at National Aviary
Birdwatching at the National Aviary – Introduction
National Aviary – Penguin Encounter
Birds of the Bible – At the National Aviary
Birdwatching the National Aviary – Grasslands
Birdwatching the National Aviary – Tropical Forest