The National Aviary’s Largest Habitat, the Wetlands, Reopens Following $3 Million Renovation

The National Aviary today officially welcomed guests to experience the newly renovated Wetlands habitat Presented by Peoples following a ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks by National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy; State Representative Sara Innamorato; State Representative Emily Kinkead; County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; Pittsburgh Councilman Bobby Wilson; Maggie Pike Iddings of the Allegheny Regional Asset District; and Ricardo Maiz of Vitro Architectural Glass. The expansive, coastal-inspired Wetlands habitat features 20,000-square-feet of bird-friendly glass by Vitro Architectural Glass; a 20-foot custom sculptural tree with immersive elements for guests and birds alike; new plant species and new bird species viewable from a resurfaced walkway; and energy efficient enhancements including new mechanical systems and fans.

“As the National Aviary continues our year-long celebration of our 70th anniversary, we are thrilled to welcome our guests back to our second oldest, and our largest, habitat,” says National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy. “Every element of this renovation was designed to support the excellent welfare of our birds, while enhancing the immersive experience of our guests.”

Guests will recognize many of the habitat’s residents, which include American Flamingos and Brown Pelicans, wading, swimming, flying, and waddling alongside newcomers to the expansive, naturalistic habitat. New inhabitants include the critically endangered Blue-billed Curassow, plus Pink-headed Fruit-Doves, Scarlet-faced Liocichlas, Black-necked Stilts, and Puna Teal. The birds are thriving in this lush, light-filled space and enjoying the exciting new features.

The glass panes lining the habitat’s walls and roof, many of which were original to the 1969 construction, were replaced by 20,000-square-feet of glass by Vitro Architectural Glass, the National Aviary’s exclusive glass partner, with Walker Glass bird-friendly glazing. Two glass styles—one fully etched for a frosted look and the other etched with a grassy pattern—are specially designed to help prevent birds from striking windows. The glass also improves energy efficiency by maximizing ultraviolet and natural light transmittance, which helps to warm the habitat and provide beneficial light for plants and birds all year.

The centerpiece of the renovation is a custom fabricated coastal tree sculpted with soaring branches that provide ideal spaces for birds to perch and sun themselves, and sprawling roots and rockwork that create seating for guests to observe the residents of the dynamic habitat. A platform for expert talks and feedings is also built into the structure, enhancing the Aviary’s interactive education programs that will deepen guests’ connections to birds and nature.

The renovation of the Wetlands is generously sponsored by presenting sponsor, Peoples, and exclusive glass partner, Vitro Architectural Glass, with support from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD), Buhl Foundation, Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, Caroline Fredricka Holdship Charitable Trust through the PNC Charitable Trusts Grant Review Committee, W.I. Patterson Charitable Trust, and Walker Glass Company Ltd. This Project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority. In addition to the elected officials and community leaders who spoke at the reopening ceremony, the National Aviary is extremely appreciative of the support of State Senator Wayne Fontana, State Senator Lindsey Williams, State Representative Aerion Abney, Director of Allegheny County Economic Development Lance Chimka, and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey.

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