If you are looking for a great family adventure, look to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh is about a two hour drive from where I live in Ohio. Though I can’t stand their football team, sorry Steelers fans, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer families. One of those family adventure opportunities is a visit to the National Aviary.
Summer at the National Aviary
This summer, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh is offering new programs that your family will love. Get ready for family adventure with visits to fly like an eagle via Birdly virtual reality technology, feed penguins and a toucan, and get up close to baby flamingos. These new programs are only part of what the National Aviary has to offer!
This new full-body virtual reality experience makes you feel like you are flying. I love that feeling! Remember when I told you about Soarin’ at Epcot? I’m sure it probably feels like that even though it is VR rather than a “ride.” Birdly is the National Aviary’s newest permanent exhibit and was created in partnership with Pittsburgh International Airport.
Birdly participants lie on the simulator chest down. Flyers flap their arms using hinged wings, controlling direction and speed of their travel. A fan simulates headwinds and flying speed, while motors and actuators tilt and dip the flyer’s body in response. An HTC Vive headset provides visuals and head-tracking, taking flyers over a virtual New York City. Between the motion, wind, sound and visuals, participants are effectively flying. A large monitor allows spectators to witness what the rider is experiencing – and spectators tend to have just as much fun. So cool!
Penguin Feeding Experience
This experience is one that I know the entire family will love! You’ll be so close to the National Aviary’s African Penguins, you’ll feel the splash and smell the fish as you settle in with the colony in the outdoor Penguin Point exhibit.
With a pair of boots and hip waders provided by the National Aviary, you’ll be well-suited to climb up on the rocks and sit with a trainer, who will help you learn all about the behaviors of these endangered birds and how they feed. Best of all, participants will have the opportunity to hand-feed fish to the penguins!
If you haven’t seen a baby flamingo, be sure to search on YouTube for the newest baby that was born at the Cincinnati Zoo! My dog goes crazy every time I play a video of Taffy, the baby flamingo! I’m not sure if he thinks it is a dog outside or what, but it is quite humorous.
This summer, the National Aviary will incubate and hand-raise several American Flamingo chicks to be a part of its interactive programming. The public will have the chance to watch the eggs in the incubator through the Avian Care Center window, and if you time your visit right, you might even see the chicks hatch! Be sure to keep checking their website for updates on the eggs!
Soar! on Sky Deck
You can see Lanner Falcons, Hooded Vultures, Black Kites and eagles in the free-flight, open air show, Soar!
This awe-inspiring presentation spotlights the hunting prowess of these incredible birds of prey. You will also learn some of the training techniques used by their highly skilled trainers. This show will run through Labor Day as the weather permits.
In this encounter, you get close to the National Aviary’s Curl-crested Aracaris. You can also feed these colorful, lively birds as they hop from arm to arm.
Native to Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, Curl-crested Aracaris are among the smallest of the toucan species, and they feature curled feathers on their heads and glossy red feathers around their shoulders. The Aviary’s Aracaris have been hand-raised to be comfortable around humans, and they are gentle and friendly with children and adults.
This free-flight show provides fresh insights into the role that birds have played in ancient mythology, culture and legend around the world. Nature’s Voice provides you with the opportunity to see and learn about many rare and beautiful bird species in an intimate theater setting where you’re never more than a few feet away from the stars of the show.
Guests will watch small but mighty Burrowing Owls swoop, fly and demonstrate signature burrowing behavior. If you’ve ever seen the movie Hoot, you’re bound to want to see these Burrowing Owls! I love this picture of the baby owlet!
You will see the rare Palm Nut Vulture in flight; hear from a Laughing Kookaburra; experience “so-close-you’ll-feel-a-breeze” fly overs by Silver Gulls and one of the world’s largest owl species, an Eurasian Eagle Owl; and witness the unique hunting techniques of the Harris Hawk. Video, music and narration enhance the program.
Plan your family adventure to the National Aviary
The National Aviary is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For complete show schedules, admission rates, encounter pricing, and more information, visit www.aviary.org or call 412.323.7235. General admission, all day passes, and admission + show pass options are available. If you want to visit Sky Deck, it is best to book that in advance.
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