Birds are scary. Ostriches, that can kill you with a kick; shrikes, with their creepy aerial cupboards; Ravens, that teach their children to hate, and so many more! They are dinosaurs, and you should be very afraid. They are also really cool.
After walking through the gift shop, the first thing we were confronted with was a Stellar’s Sea eagle, which are the largest eagles in the world.
Down the hall was an exhibit of jackass penguins, which I notice that zoos and aquariums will only ever call African penguins.
The aviary succeeded admirably in one of my markers for a good aviary, which is having birds that no one except birders will recognize. A black bird with fabulous orange highlight caught our eye, along with the golden pheasant strutting around like he owned the place.
And like at the Carnegie Natural History Museum, John Wenzel had friends there who brought us behind the scenes. Not to say that the exhibits weren’t cool, but they don’t even compare to getting to hold an African Pygmy Falcon.
His name was Goliath, partly for the irony, and partly for the irony of the duo of him and a staff member named David. He was only maybe ten inches tall (Goliath, that is) and a good four inches of that was tail length. Apparently he liked me, as he rubbed his beak on the glove, which birds will only do if they’re comfortable. The feeling was mutual, because even though he pooped on me, he was awesome.
If you’re reading this, thank you to the staff of the National Aviary! Meeting Goliath, Nigel the Kookaburra, and all the other birds has been the highlight of this trip so far.