pittsburgh_parrotsI’m not sure if it was a subconscious decision, but Empty Nest Traveling Mom decided to spend yesterday afternoon at an aviary. I wasn’t trying to fill my empty nest, just check out what everyone else had in theirs. The National Aviary in Pittsburgh is a wonderful gem that will leave you feeling like you’ve toured the world and met its most fascinating characters. From cute to crazy, and scary to regal, more than 600 birds (many endangered species) live in the facility. With a recently completed $18.5 million expansion, The National Aviary boasts a family-friendly environment (wheelchair and stroller accessible, parking lot next to the ticket office) that’s easy and fun for kids and parents.

Interactive exhibits make The National Aviary a “must see”. Don’t miss my favorite–Feeding the Lories. Armed with a tiny cup of nectar ($3), you’ll literally have the adorable Crayola-colored birds eating out of your hands. They’re fed several times a day, but be sure to check the schedule for all events and plan accordingly. Wings!, the flight show with macaws, vultures, hawks, and owls is about 30 minutes of fun. The National Aviary has the attention span of tots down too–events move quickly and there are lots of alcoves (perfect for penguin-viewing if you’re a tiny fan.).

Because Empty Nest Traveling Mom had no children in tow, she wasn’t prepared for the repercussions of an aviary adventure. Interactive exhibits with birds aren’t without little drawbacks, or in this case, droppings. Bring your baby wipes (My husband suggested a poncho but we’re not talking Maid of the Mist here.). We enjoyed two features and covered most of the highlights in three leisurely hours. As we drove home, Empty Nest Dad proclaimed, “I feel like we were on vacation.”  The perfect reason to flock to The National Aviary.*

*I paid for our tickets and toured anonymously. And I’d do it again. It was that much fun…