9 Top-Flight Public Aviaries

A female electus parrot cleans its feathers at Bloedel Conservatory
A female electus parrot cleans her feathers at Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver.

Anzel / Getty Images

Public aviaries have transformed from being little more than glorified caging facilities into scientifically focused environments where the birds' well-being is a top priority. While many aviaries today have breeding programs for endangered species, the exhibits also offer guests a fascinating array of bird species to observe and learn about—from the tropical birds of paradise to flightless African penguins.

Whether it's the largest free-flying aviary in the world, like South Africa’s Birds of Eden, or it houses the most birds, like Weltvogelpark Walsrod in Germany, here are nine top-flight public aviaries worth visiting.

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Bird Kingdom

A bright pink ibis stands on a railing at Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls

michael_swan / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

At 45,000 square feet, Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls, Canada is the largest indoor free-flying aviary in the world. Home to more than 350 birds, the privately owned attraction has been open to the public since 2003, and features a multilevel “rainforest” exhibit complete with a 40-foot waterfall. The popular aviary houses many bird species native to Africa, Asia, and South America, including the African grey parrot, golden pheasant, and blue-fronted Amazon. Bird Kingdom isn’t just for bird lovers; snakes, iguanas, and tarantulas are among the many other kinds of animals that can be found there.

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Birds of Eden

A predominately yellow bird sits on a tree at Birds of Eden

Kent Wang / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Birds of Eden exhibit in Western Cape, South Africa lays claim to the world’s largest free-flying aviary and sanctuary at 75,700 square feet. The outdoor aviary consists of a mesh dome that reaches 180 feet high and hangs over nearly six acres of indigenous forest. Visitors to Birds of Eden can walk along a near-mile of boardwalks through the aviary and observe over 200 species of mostly African birds, including many former pet birds. After “flight school,” the sanctuary often introduces many formerly caged birds to other birds for the first time—with members of the same species usually taking special interest in the new arrival.

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Bloedel Conservatory

A yellow pheasant walks through a section of Bloedel Floral Conservatory

Karen Neoh / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Opened in 1969, the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, Canada houses over 120 birds native to tropical, subtropical, and desert climates. The 70-foot-tall triodetic dome, a partial-dome architectural design that features nearly 1,500 triangular plexiglass bubbles interlocked by aluminum tubing, contains a series of mist sprayers that allow for precise control of temperature and humidity throughout the building’s various “climate zones.” Visitors to the historic aviary can expect to see birds like the citron-crested cockatoo and the orange bishop weaver, as well as a variety of exotic plants.

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Edward Youde Aviary

A woman interacts with a bird at Edward Youde Aviary in Hong Kong

Ed Coyle / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

The 32,000-square-foot Edward Youde Aviary in Hong Kong maintains over 600 birds and is the largest aviary in all of Southeast Asia. Opened in 1992, the aviary contains a caged-in outdoor area constructed of steel mesh draped over four support arches for birds native to Malesian rainforests. A separate caged facility houses the fantastic hornbill species, which is predatory to many of the smaller Malesian birds, thus necessitating their own section.

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Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

Two multi-colored birds are fed seeds at Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

Phalinn Ooi / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A part of the historic Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park exhibits more than 3,000 birds from over 200 different species. The bird species found within the 21-acre aviary include a vast majority of birds native to the region, and others from places like Australia, New Guinea, and Holland. Visitors to the park will likely be enthralled by colorful species ranging from the purple swamphen to the Formosan blue magpie.

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National Aviary

A blue Tauraco porphyreolophus sits on a branch at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh

Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

The largest aviary in the United States, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh is a privately owned indoor facility that features more than 550 birds from over 150 different species. A popular exhibit among guests is the Tropical Rainforest section, which houses hyacinth macaws and snowy egrets, among others. The National Aviary not only displays birds but breeds them, too. The successful breeding program has hatched a number of birds from endangered species, like the Bali myna and African penguin.

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Tracy Aviary

Three yellowish-orange sun conures rest on a rope

jimmy thomas / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located in Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park, the Tracy Aviary was originally founded to house the prized private collection of birds belonging to local banker Russell Lord Tracy. No longer operating in its original capacity as a private collection, the eight-acre aviary contains roughly 400 birds from 135 species and is open to the general public. Like the National Aviary, the Tracy Aviary boasts a robust breeding program of birds that are threatened, endangered, or even extinct in their native habitats.

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Weltvogelpark Walsrode

Pelicans stand near a fence at Weltvogelpark Walsrod in Germany

Papooga / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Germany’s Weltvogelpark Walsrod has been operating since 1962 and is home to an incredible 4,200 birds—more than any other aviary in the world. The massive 59-acre facility contains over 675 different bird species, from the great grey owl to the vibrant knobbed hornbill. Apart from their traditional free-flying aviary section, Weltvogelpark Walsrod has a variety of educational bird programs that include feeding zones, open air flight demonstrations, and young bird rearing areas. The world-renowned park also participates in breeding programs for various endangered species, like the duck species Madagascar teal.

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World’s Fair Flight Cage

A portion of the St. Louis World's Fair Flight Cage under a bright sky.

Robert Lawton / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

The World’s Fair Flight Cage in St. Louis, Missouri was commissioned to be built for the 1904 exposition by the Smithsonian Institution and was intended to be transported to the National Zoo in Washington D.C following its use in the fair. The city of St. Louis embraced the aviary, however, and soon purchased the structure and exhibit for permanent residency in its Missouri location. The historic World’s Fair Flight Cage has undergone many renovations since its initial construction, including a 2010 refurbishment that modeled the exhibit after the swamps found within Illinois and Missouri. Today, the facility operates as part of the St. Louis Zoo and is home to the bufflehead duck, the northern bobwhite quail, and the yellow-crowned night heron, among many other bird species.