Flamingo Gardens is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of our Free-flight Aviary which is home to permanently injured and non-releasable native wading birds and features the five unique ecosystems of Florida.
When Flamingo Gardens’ Free-flight Aviary opened in September of 1991, it was one of the first displays of its kind, giving a home to permanently injured Florida native wildlife and allowing visitors to experience them up close in a naturalistic setting. It took almost two years to construct, and originally contained only a couple dozen birds, representing nine bird species at the grand opening.
The Aviary was envisioned to be a living teaching museum representing the five unique ecosystems of Florida: coastal prairie, mangrove swamp, cypress forest, subtropical hardwood hammock, and sawgrass prairie. Plants were selected to be native to the ecosystem represented. Among the plants are bald cypress, gumbo limbo, pond apple trees, sea oats, and even mangroves.
Today the Aviary boasts over 250 birds, representing 46 native species with the distinction of being the largest collection of Florida native wading birds in the state. The trees and plants are mature and the birds look much as they would in their natural settings in the Everglades.
Each spring visitors can experience the mating and nesting rituals of the birds, as nearly 100 baby birds on average are born each year in the Aviary. The babies are left in the care of the parents until they can fly, where upon they are released into the wild. In the last 30 years the birds in the Aviary have successfully bred over 3,000 birds which have been released back into the wild.
Thanks to a grant from The Batchelor Foundation, the Aviary has recently been given a new facelift. Most noticeable is the new open-air Aviary entrance, but improvements also include a thorough cleaning and painting of the steel structural columns, and de-mucking of the ponds and waterways.
Stop by and visit the newly refreshed Aviary as we celebrate its 30 years of enjoyment to visitors of Flamingo Gardens, but more importantly to the thousands of birds that have called it home over the decades!