Updates are coming to the National Aviary’s Wetlands Habitat on the Northside
Improvements to the National Aviary’s Wetlands Habitat were announced as the bird and mammal sanctuary celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Photo: Aviary guests meet flamingos during the Wonderful Waterbirds experience. Courtesy of National Aviary
By Mary Elizabeth Lynch
On June 8, the National Aviary announced plans for renovations to their oldest habitat, the Wetlands.
According to the announcement, the space is set to be refurbished with bird-safe glass, “energy efficient air circulation and water filtration systems,” an updated variety of vegetation, a renovated walkway, and “the addition of a beautiful sculptural coastal tree that provides perching for birds and interactive elements for visitors.”
Cheryl Tracy, executive director for the Aviary, remarked upon the organization’s celebration of its 70th anniversary, which is simultaneous to the announcement of the Wetlands update:
“This renovation enhances the immersive experience the Wetlands is known for while prioritizing sustainability and the comfort, needs, and preferences of the more than 140 birds who call this iconic habitat home,” she said.
The Wetlands habitat, built in 1969, is home to a diverse array of species, including American flamingos, brown pelicans, ducks, boat-billed herons, sunbitterns, and species such as the endangered scaly-sided merganser, whose courting and nesting behaviors are supported and encouraged by how the habitat is made.
The space is well known for its lush, tropical vegetation, balmy atmosphere, and pond feature.
The redesign, which should conclude in late 2022, includes, according to a press release, the replacement “of more than 20,000-square-feet of glass from Vitro Architectural Glass with Walker Glass bird-friendly glazing.” Two types of glass, one which features a “frosted look,” and the other “etched with a naturalistic grassy pattern,” are designed to prevent bird injuries, what are known as “window strikes.”
Additionally, the inclusion of an interactive coastal tree, “sculpted with branches that provide perching and roosting opportunities for birds, and roots that form benches for Aviary guests,” will be incorporated.
Updated water and air circulation systems along with white pebble substrate and vegetation along the beach area will also be included.
The $2.5 million renovation is sponsored by Vitro Architectural Glass and The Allegheny Regional Asset District, along with the Buhl Foundation, Caroline Fredricka Holdship Charitable Trust through the PNC Charitable Trusts Grant Review Committee, and Walker Glass Company Ltd.
Vitro Architectural Glass, according to President Ricardo Maiz, “is proud of its long-standing relationship with the National Aviary, having, in the recent past, donated glass to the renovation of the Tropical Rainforest habitat and The Garden Room.”
The organization will replace the 52-year old glass that dates back to the habitat’s 1969 construction with special, energy-efficient, bird-safe glass.
While the Wetlands is under renovation, guests can enjoy the immersive Wonderful Waterbirds program.