The National Aviary in Pittsburgh has one of the widest collections of bird species that you’ll find anywhere.
Avid bird-watchers will love the place, but even folks like me who aren’t bird experts will enjoy the aviary because it has lots of really unique and fascinating birds, from bald eagles to toucans to flamingos.
And of course, there’s a sizable penguin collection, in honor of the five-time Stanley Cup champions who play hockey in this city.
My hometown of Pittsburgh has many cool attractions, and I think the aviary is one of the most underrated points of interest in the city.
If you’re interested in visiting, here’s everything you need to know about tickets, hours, and the birds you will see there.
How Did It Become The National Aviary?
In the early ’90s, the Pittsburgh Aviary was short on funding and was in danger of closing. Congress stepped in and came to the rescue (government actually works sometimes!) by passing a bill declaring it The National Aviary.
President Clinton signed it into law, and suddenly the facility had the “national” tag and additional revenue.
More than 150 species are now represented at the aviary. Three rooms allow the birds to fly around freely, zipping over your heads as you saunter through the exhibits.
There’s a tropical rainforest, a wetlands environment, a grasslands room, and a condor court, among others.
What to See at the Aviary in Pittsburgh
A basic visit to the aviary is $18, which is reasonable for the huge amount of birds on site.
Expect to see finches, pelicans, parrots, vultures, roadrunners, macaws, hawks, ducks, and ravens during your visit.
The cool part is that the facility offers several interactive opportunities. Daily bird feedings take place in various rooms, and guests can pay extra to have personal encounters with penguins, flamingos, owls, and other species.
More than 100,000 people visit the aviary each year. Anyone visiting Pittsburgh with kids should definitely plan a stop here. Wildlife-loving adults will also find the aviary to be a worthwhile attraction.
In some rooms, the birds are kept in a fenced-off area. But in other rooms, the birds are allowed to fly around freely. So keep your eyes peeled, because you never know what may fly past!
Pittsburgh Aviary: Hours, Ticket Prices
As of this writing, an adult admission to the aviary costs $18. Seniors pay $17, and kids pay $15.
The aviary is open everyday from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or in person.
One of the coolest things about the National Aviary is the large number of personal experiences they offer with various birds. These include the Penguin Encounter, Owl Encounter, and Falcon Encounter.
Some of these programs require an additional fee. Often, guests can witness an African Penguin feeding for no extra cost.
They even have a Sloth Encounter. Sloths aren’t birds, but they’re always hanging out in trees, and they’re incredibly cute, so I fully understand why they have sloths here!
The Aviary is on the North Side of Pittsburgh, not far from Acrisure Stadium, home of the Steelers.
While you’re in Pittsburgh, make sure to also check the Nationality Rooms, the Inclines to the top of Mount Washington, the best Pittsburgh museums, and Andy Warhol’s grave site.
If You’re Going: The National Aviary
Address: 700 Arch St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (Google Map)
Cost: $15 adults, $14 kids
When to Visit: Open 10am – 5 pm daily
Time Needed: Roughly an hour
Budget Lodging Nearby: SpringHill Suites North Shore
Upscale Lodging Nearby: Allegheny Inn
Further Reading: The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Amazon)