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Top 20 Bird and Parrot Related US Vacation Destinations
Looking for a fun vacation destination? Do you also want to engage your interest in birds and parrots? Then you came to the right place. I’ve done your research for you and found the best holiday destinations for bird and parrot lovers.
The following list features amazing aviaries and zoos in the US with amazing exhibits of rare and not-so-rare birds from around the world. These holiday destinations should be on every bird lover’s wish list.
Do you have a favorite birding vacation destination that didn’t make the list? Email Kibibi using this email link to let her know. This list was created in December 2008, so it may be out of date. Please check each website and call them for the latest information.
20 Philadelphia Zoo – Founded in 1874, making it the oldest zoo of its kind in the US. While the city is known as a tourist destination, the zoo isn’t usually on the short list of places to visit in Philly. But according to many visitors, it should be. They have a small selection of birds including raptors, cranes and rails, waders, waterfowl and other birds including parrots and penguins.
19 Sacramento Zoo – Many do not consider it a big zoo. With over 400 species of animals in total, some would actually say it’s a small zoo. As you might expect, their selection of birds and parrots may be considered small compared to some of the other holiday destinations on this top 20 list. However, there are several bird species on display that are threatened or endangered, such as the American flamingo, button hornbill, great hornbill, and thick-billed parrot. So if you are in the area it is worth a day visit.
18 Detroit Zoo – Where is the Detroit Zoo located? Answer….NOT Detroit. Okay, that was a trick question. It is actually located in Royal Oak Michigan. The Detroit Zoo has a variety of bird species throughout the park. They specialize in flamingos, storks, ospreys and vultures. They also have cranes, barn owls, birds of the order of runners (ostriches and nandus) and a number of other bird species. The most popular bird habitats at the Detroit Zoo are the African Waterhole and the Matilda Wilson Free-Flight Aviary, which has more than 30 species of birds.
17 Lowry Park Zoo – Lowry Park Zoo is located on 56 acres of land in Tampa, Florida. It was once recognized as the “Number One Family Zoo in the US” by Child magazine (2006). So the kids loved it, but will it be a bird lover? That depends on who you ask. According to Yahoo Advisor, the site only gets a rating of 3.5 out of 5.0. Most of the complaints are about the price tag, as this is a Pay as you go attraction. Although not much better, Trip Advisor rates it 4.0 out of 5.0. One of the main attractions, Spirits of the Sky, is “an interactive and entertaining show that features birds of prey,” according to Lowry Park Zoo.
16 Oakland Zoo – This zoo is located near the highway and is tucked away in a hilly wooded area. Oakland Zoo is home to dozens of bird species, from pied crows to yellow-headed Amazon parrots. This site received 4.5 stars (out of 5) on Yahoo Travel. The only complaint seemed to be that it was a small zoo. Although it may be small, most visitors agree that it will be a good zoo experience especially for children.
15 Buffalo Zoo – According to TripAdvisor.com, it is the 3rd oldest zoo in the US! And according to at least one of its visitors, “Buffalo Zoo has to be one of – if not the cleanest and nicest zoo around.” While it doesn’t have a large selection of birds to display, it does have some unusual birds that you’ll want to check out. These include the Bourke parrot, the Cloncurry parrot and (9) various species of lorises and lorises.
14 Knoxville Zoo – Some of you may recognize one of the Knoxville Zoo’s most famous avian residents: Einstein. Einstein and “his” trainer have appeared on many television programs, and a quick search for “Einstein” on YouTube will yield great results. But is Einstein big enough to lure you into a small zoo? Maybe not, but at least a few visitors and many locals agree that the Knoxville Zoo is the perfect size zoo for a day visit. Besides, how can you leave Einstein’s home off the top 20 bird-related vacation destinations list?
13 Louisville Zoo – The Louisville Zoo is a large but well-planned zoo, so plan to walk around. It’s also built on a slope, so part of your walk will be uphill, so plan ahead. One of the main attractions for birders is Lorakeet Landing, where you feed the birds (for a fee) from a cup of sugar water. The staff are also more than happy to take pictures with the birds to create a souvenir (for a fee, of course) to take home with you.
12 Franklin Park Zoo – Franklin Park Zoo was founded in 1913 and covers 72 acres in Boston’s historic Franklin Park. Their Bird’s World exhibit has been there since the beginning of Franklin Park in 1913. It has undergone many changes over the years and is still a favorite exhibit for many visitors. It is home to dozens of bird species from around the world from many habitats including swamps, scrub and wetlands. A unique exhibit is the Night and Day exhibit, which features yellow-brown frogs’ mouths, which are nocturnal. So to accommodate visitors, they swap day and night? But how is that possible? when the exposition opens at 10 o’clock, it is dark inside and so “night” for the birds. Around 2:00 p.m., the exhibit is filled with light to simulate “daytime.” This is a big secret, so don’t tell the tawny frogmouths.
11 Minnesota Zoo – This is a large zoo with an area of more than 500 acres. It focuses on the restoration of natural habitats. However, according to many visitors, they do not focus on reducing prices. While others agree that it is very expensive, they also say that it is worth it. One of the main attractions for bird lovers is the World of Bird Shows. The birds in this show, according to the Minnesota Zoo, will “wow you with their antics” and include “…one of the rarest birds in the world, a representative of the world’s largest species of owl, and one bird whose likeness is part of the official emblems of twelve states.”
10 Toledo Zoo – It’s a small zoo, but most who visit the Toledo Zoo agree that it’s a great zoo. The Toledo Zoo Aviary was designed in 1937 and underwent extensive renovations in 1998. It is an award-winning aviary with a wide variety of species including Hornbills, Cuban Amazon Parrots, Sunbirds, Cuban Warblers, Victorian Crowned Pigeons and Burrowing Owls.
9 Sarasota Jungle Gardens – This vacation destination is high on the bucket list of anyone visiting the Sarasota Florida area. And for good reason! Where else can you get flamingos to eat from your hand? Sarasota Jungle Gardens offers two main bird-related attractions; Birds of Prey and Birds of the Rainforest. Their Birds of Prey exhibit consists mostly of rescued birds (hawks, owls, vultures, etc.), while Birds of the Rainforest includes “…showcasing exotic birds with a plot”. However, if you’re looking for a huge attraction, this won’t be your go-to destination. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for with quality exhibits and friendly staff.
8 Busch Gardens Africa – Tampa Bay – Busch Gardens offers a little bit of everything for everyone, young and old, and that includes something for bird and parrot lovers. They have (8) theme parks and one of them is the Bird Garden which has more than 500 birds from all over the world, which guarantees that you will see something interesting. So whether it’s a show at the Bird Gardens Theatre, a Lory Landing walk or an Aviary walk, you’ll find something to satisfy your inner bird lover.
7 Jungle Island – If location, location, location is important, then this is your goal. Jungle Island is located on (you guessed it?) an island! Jungle Island is located on an island between Miami and Miami Beach. This island park has more than 1100 exotic birds. You and your kids can get up close and personal with some of their birds as you carry parrots on your shoulders. But according to at least one visitor, this ‘hands-on’ experience will cost you!
6 Tracy Aviary – The Tracy Aviary has been around since 1938, when it was created out of an act of charity by banker Russell Lord Tracy when he donated his private bird collection to Salt Lake City. Located just south of downtown Salt Lake City, this aviary is an excellent vacation destination. It is home to over 500 birds from 150 species and you will have the opportunity to meet them up close and personal. This should be on every bird lover’s short list of holiday destinations.
5 Parrot Hill and Gardens – If you are looking for a ‘birds only’ attack, this may be your choice. Parrot Mountain is located… wait for it… on a MOUNTAIN! This is a beautiful outdoor attraction with several species of parrots from around the world. This is an absolute MUST SEE according to many visitors. It offers outdoor exhibits in cages as well as macaws and cockatoos on perches for visitor interaction and feeding (for a fee, of course). According to one visitor, “The Bird Nursery was an amazing exhibit unlike any found in any zoo!”
4 Houston Zoo – Even though it is located in the heart of the city, once you get lost inside, you forget about the busy city outside. The Houston Zoo has approximately 250 species and 800 specimens of birds from around the world. These species include everything from the familiar green-winged, blue-golden and red-fronted macaws to more exotic birds such as the king vulture and turacos. You’ve probably never heard of Turacos, but you’ll want to see them. They have a unique color that is not found anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Is this the odd behavior you’re looking for? How about Motmot with the blue crown? It is a small jay-sized bird with a long, rocket-tipped tail that digs long tunnels in the ground or in earthen embankments for its nests.
3 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – This is the second oldest zoo in the USA. It has more than 100 species of birds and a wide selection of parrots (over 25 species of parrots at last count). Do you care about size? They have some of the largest birds in the world (the Andean condor) and the largest bird in the kingfisher family (the Kookaburra). Just make sure you keep your ears around the Kookaburra, not because it eats ears, but because it is well known for its LOUD calls. Too loud or big for your interests? Then maybe you and your kids will love Lorikeet Landing, where you become the “landing”.
2 San Diego Zoo – This is a world famous zoo, but is it a destination for bird lovers? According to many visitors, the answer is a resounding “YES!” Aras in the children’s zoo, the Flamingo Lagoon and the Wings of Australasia exhibition are guaranteed to ignite the bird lover in you. Is not it too little? And how about the Owens Rain Forest Aviary, which offers bird lovers an up-close and personal look at more than 200 feathered friends representing 60 species and about 180 birds. This holiday destination should be on every bird lover’s bucket list.
1 National Aviary – This historic aviary may be small in size, but it packs a LOT of variety into this small package. There are several walk-through indoor aviaries and glass observation cages. Be sure to check their schedules as they have hourly interactive demonstrations with different live species throughout the day and scheduled lectures on different species. Plan to take lots of pictures and spend several hours enjoying the many species, daily events, special events and interactive sessions. This birding holiday destination is a must for any bird lover.
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