Photo  of FLY courtesy of the National Aviary

By Nick Eustis

The National Aviary has organized a smorgasbord of activities and events for its summer season, sure to please guests of all ages.

The most anticipated new attraction at the Aviary is called Birdly by SOMNIACS. Birdly is a “full-body, bird flight simulation experience” that allows riders to soar over a virtual New York City like a falcon, according to the website.

“Full-body” is not an understatement. The rider’s arms control flappable “wings” that can be tilted up and down to dive and climb. The entire machine also moves the rider up and down in response to the rider’s inputs. When combined with a VR headset and a blowing fan to complete the illusion, it makes for an immersive city flying experience. Birdly will be offered daily for Aviary guests for $8.

Birdly is not the only experience guests can have every day at the Aviary. Also offered daily are a variety of talks and encounters, where visitors can view select animals up close and learn more about them from an Aviary educator.

A popular daily event at the Aviary are free-flight live bird shows. The Soar! live flight show demonstrates the hunting behavior of vultures at their outdoor theater.

The Aviary provides a “Nature’s Voice” show, in which carnivorous and omnivorous birds from each continent fly over the heads of audience members, while educators explain how these birds impact their native ecosystems.

The Aviary also offers public feedings of some of their most popular animals, including their African penguins and their two-toed sloth, Valentino.

In the coming months there will be special events in the coming months. On July 8, the Aviary will host its 15th annual Night in the Tropics, their largest fundraising event of the year.

The theme of the event this year is “World Tour,” which aims to “highlight the diversity of [their] birds,” according to Carly Morgan, marketing manager at the Aviary.

Food and alcoholic beverages from 30 different restaurants will be provided, as well as live performances.

For a chance to dine with Valentino the sloth, the Aviary is hosting two sloth brunches on July 23 and August 20. Each brunch will have seatings at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and guests of all ages are welcome.

On August 17, the Aviary has organized a night called Penguins & Pajamas. Guests are welcomed to dress in their pajamas for a movie night, capped off with a penguin meet-and-greet.

Tickets for special events are available online at aviary.org.