American Bankers Family Aviary, Wings Of Asia
See real live dinosaurs at Zoo Miami's American Bankers Family Aviary, Wings of Asia and immerse yourself in a forest habitat inundated with the sheer diversity and beauty of the birds. Did you know that the Tyrannosaurus Rex is a relative of a tiny mandarin duck? Although the magnificent T-Rex and agile Velociraptor became extinct some 65 million years ago, many scientists believe that there is one lineage of dinosaur thriving today. We call them birds. Visitors are encouraged to learn about the similarities and relationships between birds and dinosaurs in the pre-flight area and in the Field Research Center at the Aviary.
Throughout the Aviary entry plaza, shaded pavilions weave the story of evolution. The Field Research Center provides visitors the opportunity to view and touch realistic casts of dinosaur fossils and bird skeletons, to view a film showing the link between dinosaurs and birds, and to make up their own stories with bird puppets. Children of all ages can search for the skeleton of a 40-foot long carnivorous dinosaur in a mock fossil excavation pit. The hard, caked-mud plaza has trapped the footprints of dinosaurs and plant leaves. A Saurapod' leg and foot, next to a much smaller leg and foot of a Theropod, demonstrate the difference between carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs by the shapes of their toes. It's up to the visitor to determine which dinosaurs have been walking about the plaza by studying their tracks. Inside the temple, modern birds can be explored through interactive displays. In the air-conditioned Observation Center, and from behind two waterfalls in the Potamkin Conservation Center, aquatic birds can be observed swimming above and below water as they dive for food and bathe themselves.
After exploring the wonders of the modern bird world, visitors exit the temple ruin to encounter the beauty and majesty of Asia's birds. Inside the aviary, pathways are littered with faux fossils. Mud banks made from shotcrete simulating a wetland are surrounded by vegetation, enabling birds to play hide and seek with the visitors. The exhibit has been planted primarily with Asian plants to provide a number of habitat niches including the wetland and tree canopies for the birds.
Proclaimed a "best bet" by Sky Magazine and "unrivaled" by American Way Magazine, the American Bankers Family Aviary, Wings of Asia opened in the spring of 2003 and marked the first phase of a 20-year master plan. More than 300 exotic, rare and endangered Asian birds representing over 70 species reside in this Aviary. Covering more than 54,000 square feet, it is the largest open air Asian aviary in the Western Hemisphere. Brilliantly colored pheasants, hornbills, pigeons and many other birds show off their shimmering, iridescent plumage in a large, lush free-flight enclosure that provides them with unencumbered flight. Tiny and large birds swoop overhead, perch on branches and even strut and stroll right by visitors. The air is alive with bird activity, beautiful birdsongs, trickling brooks and waterfalls.
The bird collection is quite diverse with rare, colorful species that sing attractive songs and make unusual vocalizations. Some of the birds are cranes, rails, mynahs, parrots, pheasants, thrushes, fruit-pigeons, barbets and woodpeckers. The birds, vastly different in size, range from 10-gram Japanese white-eyes to 7000-gram sarus cranes. Some of the more notable birds within the exhibit include black-browed barbets, sultan tits, Javan cochoas and blue-masked leafbirds. Many of these species are rare in zoo collections, and some can only be seen at Zoo Miami as part of our participation in wildlife conservation breeding initiatives such as the Species Survival Program.