Birds show off their big brains at new National Aviary free-flight show |
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Birds show off their big brains at new National Aviary free-flight show

Shirley McMarlin

Call someone a “bird brain,” and you’re not calling them smart. A new show at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh’s North Side shows just how wrong that is.

“Bird Brains,” a limited-run, free-flight show featuring an avian cast showing off unique natural adaptations and problem-solving skills, is scheduled twice daily in the aviary’s Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone Theater through Jan. 31.

“Bird Brains” explores the concept of bird intelligence and the behaviors, traits and skills various species have developed to survive in the wild.

A Green-winged macaw pulling a bucket at the National Aviary free-flight show.

Photo by Jamie Greene


Green-winged macaws, a hyacinth macaw, hooded vultures, an American crow, American flamingos, an African Penguin, Eurasian eagle owl, silver gulls and a blue-fronted Amazon parrot appear in the show that incorporates theatrical lighting, video, music and narration by aviary trainers.

Audiences will see how macaws use their climbing skills and intelligence to master an obstacle course and how crows employ problem-solving skills to get to food. The show wraps with an appearance by one of the aviary’s critically endangered African Penguins and a reminder of the need to protect the planet and its natural habitats.

A crow demonstrates his problem-solving skills at the National Aviary.

Photo by Jamie Greene


“Bird Brains” will be presented at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays, throughout its run.

A ticket is $5, in addition to regular aviary admission of $15, $14 for ages 2-12 and 60 and older.

Details: 412-323-7235 or

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

Jamie Greene
Eurasian Eagle Owl in flight at the National Aviary
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Tundra, a snowy owl, basks in the sunlight. at the National Aviary on Oct. 15, 2015. A snow owl is featured in the aviary's current 'Extraordinary Owls' programming.
National Aviary
A Eurasian EagleOwl, such as this owlet photographed in 2013, will be part of the National Aviary's 'Extraordinary Owls' programming.
Roger Higbee
An Eastern Screech-Owl, such as this one photographed in 2014, will be part of the National Aviary's 'Extraordinary Owls' programming.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Attie, a year-old Burrowing Owl, was part of a new interactive show in 2016 at the National Aviary on Pittsburgh's North Side.
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