2012 Annual Appeal

For birds, the world can be a dangerous place.

Half a century ago, our native populations of eagles, falcons, hawks and condors were nearly wiped out by the pesticide DDT before Rachel Carson sounded the alarm in her seminal publication, Silent Spring. Today, these species are facing further pressures as developers clear-cut forests, shrinking habitats and with them, nesting sites and food sources.

African Penguins find their rocky beachside homes displaced by oceanfront condominiums. Warming ocean currents force them to swim further and further out to sea, exposing them to predators like sharks and killer whales. Oil tankers plying the Cape of Good Hope spill their inky cargo, coating the birds and 
the coastline with toxic sludge.

Even the smallest of birds like the Louisiana Waterthrush, once plentiful along the creeks and streams 
of Western Pennsylvania, are losing ground to the onrush of pollutants resulting from wide-scale drilling and mining.

For birds, the National Aviary is a safe haven.
  • Here, they are protected from the ravages of habitat destruction, pollution and environmental degradation.
  • Here, they have the food, shelter and healthcare they need to survive and thrive.
  • Here, they can inspire in visitors of all ages a respect and appreciation for the natural world.
But caring for over 500 birds representing more than 150 species isn’t easy or inexpensive.

Imagine the cost of feeding such a flock. Each penguin eats roughly 20 herring or sardines a day. A Bald Eagle dines on one chicken or quail daily.  Toucans, trumpeters, curassows and crowned pigeons consume around 200 pounds of fruits and vegetables each month, while parrots and macaws crack open roughly 50 pounds of nuts over the same period. The National Aviary’s food budget tops $350 a day.

Keeping 500 birds fit and flying requires top notch, but highly specialized health care, so the National Aviary employs the top avian veterinary professionals in the country. Our birds are treated for a host of diseases ranging from West Nile Virus to avian tuberculosis to aspergillosis. Like their human counterparts, female birds experience reproductive problems, and males fight turf wars that can result in cuts and bruises and broken bones.  Surgeries are performed, and physical therapies administered. And when our birds reach retirement age, they’re moved to a special off-exhibit area where they receive tender, loving elder care until the end of their days. Caring for the health of so many valuable birds runs nearly $950 each day.

Maintaining clean, safe, environmentally-controlled habitats suitable for a diverse collection of species 
adds another $1000 to our daily costs.

Share the Care

With these kinds of expenses, hopefully you can understand why we are asking for your help to share the care of our flock. With a $50 donation, we can feed our softbills a day’s worth of fresh fruits and vegetables, and satisfy the appetites of our insect eaters. For $100, we can deliver a daily ration of meat to our raptors and carnivores. A $250 gift can buy a week’s worth of fish for our penguin colony. 

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the National Aviary before year’s end. Not only will you ensure the health and well-being of some of the world’s most rare and exotic birds, you’ll also help one of Western Pennsylvania’s most unique assets continue to educate and inspire over 40,000 students and 100,000 visitors who come to the National Aviary each year.

 

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