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Incredible Journeys

Sidebar: A Migration-Friendly Zoo

By Brittany Grayson

The Smithsonian’s National zoo is a stopping point for countless migratory birds, including ruby-throated hummingbirds. To help keep these birds from flying into our glass enclosures and injuring themselves, Zoo scientists and exhibit developers are seeking ways to make glass visible to the birds while still allowing visitors to see animals. One of our first attempts at this is visible at the sloth bear enclosure along Asia Trail. The frosted bamboo leaf decals are meant to help birds steer clear of the glass.

scuba diving in Caribbean
The use of patterned glass at select spots around the Zoo has reduced bird strikes significantly. (Dan Boritt/NZP)

The trees surrounding the Bird House are a key breeding ground for blackcrowned night herons. Nearly 200 pairs of these birds breed and raise their young at the zoo each spring and summer. To help visitors appreciate this annual marvel, the zoo recently erected signs identifying the herons and explaining their behavior.

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Smithsonian Zoogoer 40(4) 2011. Copyright 2011 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.