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Aviary hopes you’ll laugh with joy, delight at ‘Silent Flight’ | TribLIVE.com
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Aviary hopes you’ll laugh with joy, delight at ‘Silent Flight’

Tribune-Review
| Friday, November 21, 2014 8:02 p.m
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Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Ruby, a Scarlet Macaw, part of the 'Wings in Winter' indoor free-flight bird show at the National Aviary flies across the room on the North Side, on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.
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Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Disco, an African Penguin, that is part of the 'Wings in Winter' indoor free-flight bird show at the National Aviary stands near Santa on the North Side, on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.
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Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Cathy Schlott, Curator of Behavioral Management and Education, holds a snowy owl, Fleury, which is part of the 'Wings in Winter' indoor free-flight bird show at the National Aviary on the North Side, on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.
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Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
A snowy owl, Fleury, is part of the 'Wings in Winter' indoor free-flight bird show at the National Aviary on the North Side, on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.

Sing this to the tune of the last stanza of “Silent Night”: “Sleep all day if you plea-ease. Sleep in the barn or the tree-ees.”

That is the National Aviary’s feathered spin on the classic Christmas carol, which twists the lyrics into an owl song they call “Silent Flight.” It is one of many clever, bird-themed spins on carols that the North Side aviary has invented for its new, seasonal “Wings in Winter” show, including “I’m Dreaming of a White Chicken” and “Duck the Halls.”

The 16 birds in the cast enter the stage — decorated with Christmas trees and wrapped gift packages, lights and other yuletide adornments — on cue, and they either run around like the peppy Ameraucana chickens, or fly right over guests’ heads, like Fleury the snowy owl and Ruby the scarlet macaw. Rock-n-Robin, the show’s disc jockey, sits at a table resembling a desk at a classic radio station as she plays the tunes, and Santa Claus serves as an emcee on the screen, where pictures of the birds and the song’s lyrics roll.

The show is interactive, and people can sing along.

The songs are “something you’re familiar with but in a fun way,” says Cathy Schlott, the aviary’s curator of behavioral management and education.

“It’s so much fun” and educational, she says. “People are just laughing. All ages — they are cracking up.”

Schlott says she hopes Pittsburghers will put the aviary’s winter show on their list of annual holiday traditions.

Along with the show, the aviary is doing other winter-themed activities. Every day, the first visitor to find a hidden snowy-owl figurine gets a prize. The outdoor penguin area is called the “North Side Pole” and has decorated Christmas trees. You can get photos with Santa and his live penguin pal from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, 13 and 20. These sessions include children’s holiday-themed crafts. Bring your camera to this one.

Other activities include Holiday Shopping Day, with discounts; “Wings in Winter” National Aviary at Night on Dec. 18; Penguin Painting on Dec. 14; and Holiday Camps for kids and families on Nov. 29, and Dec. 27 to 30.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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