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Bird House Preview

  • Outdoor rendering of the new Bird House

    The endeavor to save imperiled migratory birds transcends the world-class conservation science already underway at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute; it entails inspiring millions of change makers to join together in actions great and small.

    As such, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is transforming its historic 1928 Bird House and surrounding plateau into an educational celebration of birds and bird migration through the Americas. The Bird House will be a first-of-its-kind zoo or museum attraction of this size to introduce visitors to birds’ remarkable ability to make miraculous annual journeys.

  • Entering the Bird House

    The ambitious new exhibit invites Zoo visitors to engage in pioneering research led by scientists at the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center and to participate in efforts to protect migratory birds. Hands-on, interactive exhibits, walk-through aviaries and a bird-tracking lab will immerse visitors—body and mind—in the phenomenon of migration and bird conservation. Ongoing citizen science activities, STEM-based curriculum for teachers and mobile apps will encourage visitors to stay involved long after leaving the Zoo.
  • Shorebird Aviary: Delaware Bay

    In the first of three walkthrough aviaries, guests learn the story of shorebird migration—from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic tundra. Seasonal changes in the availability of food are emphasized as the driving force of these movements. Red knots and other shorebirds fly alongside guests toward a bright, open marsh pond and themed beach with live horseshoe crabs. Interpretive graphics help explain why the Delaware Bay is a prime example of an essential refueling station for birds.
  • Waterfowl Aviary: Prairie Potholes

    Leaving the Delaware Bay, visitors enter the prairie pothole region of the upper Midwest, temporary wetlands that fill with snow-melt and seasonal rains. Pools line either side of the curved walkway. Ducks thrive in this landscape, shaped by ancient glaciers and abundant with food and extensive grasslands that safely conceal nests. Guests learn that many waterfowl populations have rebounded due to dedicated conservation efforts, though this wetland breeding habitat is among the most threatened ecosystems.

  • Songbird Aviary: Bird Friendly Coffee Farm

    Entering the third immersive aviary, songbirds flit among canopy trees that grow above coffee plants, representing a traditional, rustic coffee farm. Visitors learn how the type of coffee they purchase can impact migratory birds, because the quality of migratory birds' overwinter habitat affects the success of their migration and breeding.