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What are model bird exhibits for interesting non-bird enthusiasts?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by DavidBrown, 29 Jun 2015.

  1. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Birds are a component of most zoo collections. Some zoos have relatively few species and some zoos have huge bird collections (e.g., San Diego and Bronx) that are major components of their identities.

    Many zoo goers seem to skittle past the bird exhibits, perhaps impressed by large birds of prey, colorful parrots, or penguins, but disinterested in the vast majority of the bird kingdom.

    Assuming that a major role for zoos is to expose visitors to important parts of the animal world and inspire appreciation for them, what are the best bird exhibits that you have seen that do this?

    Are there any model bird exhibits out there for inspiring bird appreciation in the average zoo visitor who may not already be turned on to birds?

    I was really impressed with the Wings of Asia aviary at Zoo Miami which had great introductory exhibits at the entrance showing the connections between birds and dinosaurs (i.e., that birds are dinosaurs). This impressed me as an attempt to try and generate some deeper interest than just "oh, it's a pretty bird".
     
  2. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    I definitely used to be one of the 'skittle-pasters', but the more zoos I visit the more I find I want to enjoy the bird exhibits. There's only so many times you can admire a sleeping Red Panda!
    The bird exhibits I enjoy most are multi-species walk-through aviaries. Trying to spot and identify all the different birds in the undergrowth is a lot of fun and you usually end up learning a few new species as well. London's walk-through exhibits really inspired me last time I visited (apart from the Snowdon Aviary), as did Copenhagen's Tropical Bird House.
    Other inspiring exhibits I've seen recently are Helsinki's Borealia, which showcases the mating behaviour of Ruffs, and Banham's free-flying Rupell's Griffon Vultures.
     
  3. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    A good example of a new exhibit that costed millions of euros but failed to do what you describe here is the new bird house in Berlin Zoo, with lots of uninspiring cages and lacking education.

    I personally think that more small scale but nicely done walk-through aviaries are good bird enclosures, the bird houses of Vienna and Amsterdam spring to mind, but also the walkthrough aviaries in the Wilhelma in Stuttgart and the penguin walkthrough in Rheine. Not only close contact is important, aviaries that are overwhelming may do the same, like the massive vulture aviary in Tierpark Berlin. Or another exhibit that works well is one in which there is just an awful lot of activity and stuff going on, like the sociable weaver exhibit in the Basel Zoo, where I have seen many people spending a lot more time than they usually would do for small greyish birds....

    But I think close contact may be the most important thing, so all those lori aviaries where you can feed the loris may be a very effective way, if executed properly (like the one in Avifauna). However there must be enough, but not to much, education available, also in such a lori exhibit and this education should mostly be interactive I think.
     
  4. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    The various aviaries at Living Coasts are fantastic for provoking a bit more of an interest in odd birds, too.
     
  5. Mr. Zootycoon

    Mr. Zootycoon Well-Known Member

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    In my opion, walkthrough aviaries are among the most populair bird exhibits.
    Even with less favourite species. A local zoo, Zie-ZOO, is building a new seagull
    walkthrough aviary, as a replacement for their old gull aviary.
    If the species kept in the original aviary return, it would be an interesting exhibit for most visitors, even though the gulls are species people can see every day in the wild.
     
  6. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Two bird exhibits that spring to mind are those of Tiergarten Schonbrunn in Vienna and also the big Vulture aviary at Budapest.

    The one in Vienna has a couple of nice walkthrough 'rooms' with Rainforest and Savannah and a mixture of very nice small birds which are colourful and rare that lived in the habitat that the planting and surroundings represented (as well as Green Acouchis in the Rainforest one) which I really liked. Vienna's large rainforest tropical house was also fantastic with a mixture of mammals, herps, fish etc. as well as the birds giving it an even more nature-like feel.

    The aviary at Budapest was another that I though was good as it just left me in awe at the impressiveness of the Griffon Vultures which share their enclosure with Northern Bald (Waldrapp) Ibis and White-faced Whistling Ducks (as well as Indian Crested Porcupines).

    While I am a 'bird enthusiast', I think that the most interesting bird exhibits in general are those in which you are in with the birds and can experience something close to the natural habitat with birds all around as well as the bird calls. Whilst most people wouldn't spend so much time waiting and watching for an obscure bird to come out, I think these sorts of exhibits are the best way to see birds in a zoo.
     
  7. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

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    I really enjoy walkthrough aviaries, I think they are really great for visitors, add generally showing they're larger and showcase now species, so visitors spend longer at the exhibit. I really liked Sewerby's as you really needed to see all of the exhibit to see all of the birds; and Tropical World's various bird walkthroughs are great, as I didn't know non-zoo enthusiasts could get so enthralled by Red-crested Wood Partridges!
     
  8. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    I think many people need to see a bird with a special 'hook' to catch their attention. It might be as simple as a parrot that says 'Hallo' or a peacock displaying or a really big penguin pool where you can watch the penguins 'porpoising' as they swim. I suppose that this is an argument for bird shows where free-flying birds can show their special skills.
    I believe that really tiny and brightly coloured species like hummingbirds, manakins and fairy wrens also have special appeal - but we don't get much opportunity to see them nowadays.
    Of course nesting behaviour is interesting, particularly for colonial birds: the village weavers in the walk-through Tsavo Aviary at Chester attract quite a bit of attention. Finally many bird species are hand-raised to boost productivity, but it's always good to see parent birds with chicks; the sight of a pair of red-crowned cranes with a young chick made me smile at Paignton today.

    Alan
     
  9. Drew

    Drew Well-Known Member

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    I never really considered myself a bird person years ago, but I have slowly come to thoroughly enjoy the walk through Australia and South America aviaries at my local Sedgwick County Zoo. In fact, it is many times the highlight of my trip! I think it is the constant activity, species interaction, interesting mix of animals, and the way you view into the larger megafauna exhibits around the perimeter while inside the aviary. While it is not a high dollar immersion exhibit, hearing a variety or south American birds flying around you while looking out to the maned wolves certainly adds to the experience.
     
  10. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    As with other posts a good walk-through exhibit will do the job, and the best examples have staff/visitors directly interacting with birds. The various collections that have lorikeet feeding (such as Bristol, but there are many others) and the huge walk-through at Jurong (three separate daily public feeds: nectar, bug and fruit) are the best examples that I have seen.

    Also trained bird displays can be a very effective way to enthuse the public about birds. Not only the usual suspects - birds of prey and parrots, but I have seen such diverse species as corvids, flamingoes and hornbills used successfully in educational shows. Of course there are plenty of examples of bad bird displays with no educational value...
     
  11. GermanZooFan

    GermanZooFan Well-Known Member

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    I'm not very interested in the most sorts of birds. But some exhibits are so beautiful that you are forced to love the animals and the exhibit. Few examples example, at least for me, were the vulture aviary at Praha, the bird house at Frankfurt, Bugers' Bush or Burgers' Mangrove.
     
  12. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    The Bronx Zoo's "World of Birds" with its natural history museum -like living dioramas seems to catch visitors' attention and has always been popular. San Diego Zoo's enormous walk-thru aviaries on the canyon slopes are also as good an immersion experience as one could hope for. Sedgwick County Zoo's huge walk thru, as Drew says, is a great experience, as is Woodland Park Zoo's walk-through mash. And what these have in common -- as different as they are -- is that they are great experiences where there is a lot of active bird life. And then I think of Chester Zoo's aviary rows which are dull experiences with great birds. I expect they are mostly popular with people who already appreciate birds (I loved them).
    And I think most bird of prey exhibits do not hold visitors' interest because they are typically big bird on a stick in a small aviary. There are exceptions (Woodland Park or Oregon Zoo's bald eagles come to mind)

    The Philadelphia Zoo's renovated Bird House takes a different approach adding multi-media and bold interpretive graphics to peak visitors' interest. But I haven't observed visitors there to know whether they are "biting."
     
    Last edited: 3 Jul 2015
  13. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member

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    Proximity to an ABC animal viewing area can be beneficial too; I keep thinking of the Argus pheasant exhibit next to one of the viewing areas for tigers in San Diego Zoo's Lost Forest zone (the part originally built as 'Tiger River'). The mixed-species bird exhibit highlights one species with a large interpretive sign (the pheasant). It is not the most stellar aviary at this aviary-rich zoo, but it seems to get a lot of attention from visitors as they look for tigers or wait to look at them or hope to look at them. When the tigers are not visible or are sleeping, the showy birds upstage the tigers often, and I have observed many visitors interested in the birds as a result over the years.

    At the same zoo, this technique of placing a bird exhibit next to a crowded viewing area for a popular animal seems to have mixed results. There is a charming glass-fronted small aviary as part of the viewing shelter for the bonobo exhibit and I have rarely seen anyone glance at it; it contains small birds (which may be part of the problem) and the glass stifles the sounds within as well. I have a fuzzy memory of a small aviary next to the main gorilla viewing area as well, and if I'm correct it was removed years ago; probably to enlarge the viewing area for the stars! So proximity is not the golden arrow of attention-grabbing for birds, but it may help.
     
  14. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the owls and the two ranges of internal aviaries within the Tropical House, Chester's rows of aviaries have now been demolished or taken off-show. The Tsavo aviary is the newest and best, a walk-through for African birds . . . but there will be more in Islands soon ;)

    Alan
     
  15. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Bird feeding is usually popular. There are many places where one can feed budgerigars with seed or rainbow lorikeets with nectar. Most developed it is in Jurong bird park, where there is a lot of lorikeets to feed, even Eclectus Parrots.

    I wonder if this can be extended to other species? Lovebirds in African or Madagascar exhibits or Canary-winged Parakeets in South American exhibits?

    There are also some places where one can feed birds with mealworms, but it is not so popular.
     
  16. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

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    At the WWT places you can feed all sorts of ducks and geese by hand, sadly I can't comment on how popular this is, as when I visited the Washington site, it was a quiet day, and I was in a rush.
     
  17. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    It is popular with children, but of course WWT centres have an emphasis on birds so there is little competition, although most of them have a few mammals too.

    Alan
     
  18. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    The interactive kea aviary at the Cincinnati Zoo seems to be quite the hit with guests. An interactive puzzle was installed into a glass viewing area for the aviary and allows for the visitors to work with the birds to complete it. The visitor starts by dropping a quarter into the slot at the top of the puzzle, which rings a bell, alerting the keas, and from there are various knobs to turn and things to slide and such for both the guests and the birds to work the quarter down to the bottom of the puzzle. There are various signs about discussing keas, their intelligence, and the conservation work the zoo does with the species (all of the money from the puzzle goes toward kea conservation), and visitors really do seem to take note and interest.