Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah is the sort of place that many local families have heard of, but never visited. These families, many of whom make regular trips to the Hogle Zoo – which we also enjoy – are missing out on one of our favorite Salt Lake City attractions.
The biggest difference between visiting the zoo and the Tracy Aviary, aside from the exhibits being all birds, is the calm, uncrowded and unrushed atmosphere at Tracy Aviary. My son’s favorite part of visiting the aviary is the bird show, where trainers show visitors beautiful birds from around the world and the amazing things they can do. It’s not wildly different from bird shows I’ve seen other places, like the zoo, but the amphitheater is much smaller, so you’re guaranteed a good seat. If someone in your family loves to be chosen when volunteers are called for, they’ll have a pretty good shot at the Tracy Aviary shows. In one show on a chilly, overcast day in March my daughter was chosen to help with one bird trick and then later when an adult was needed, I was practically begged out of the audience to let a toucan hop across my arms. So fun!
My daughter’s favorite part of the Tracy Aviary is feeding the birds. We fed the conures, and letting those colorful little South American birds perch on our arms (and backs and shoulders and heads) to eat apple pieces from our hands was the best part of our day. This is a scheduled activity for a limited number of visitors. Arrive at the park in advance and make reservations at the entrance gate. The cost is $3 per person for a 15-minute experience. We paid for both of our children to participate and we were able to go inside the enclosure with them. My young son panicked when he saw all those birds flying toward him, so I took over his apples and sheltered him with one arm and fed the birds with the other. It was so much fun, I might have to buy the experience for myself, and not just my kids, next time.
We have fun at the Tracy Aviary on days when we arrive too late for the show and do not pay extra for the feeding experience. We like walking around and seeing all of the exotic and local birds on display. Peacocks roam freely and visitors can get a good look at pelicans, bald eagles, golden eagles, hawks, vultures, kookaburras, emus, owls, hornbills, herons, swans, and many more. My favorites are the gigantic condors. It boggles my mind that a bird can be that big.
A new indoor South American Pavilion opened in 2010 and features toucans, tanagers, bitterns, curassows and other brightly plumed specimens, along with a nursery for incubating and hatching eggs and nursing newborn birds, all on display for visitors. Pink flamingoes, swans and backyard birds of Argentina greet visitors at the Destination Argentina exhibit. The Great Salt Lake is home to many interesting birds and Aviary guests can see and learn more about some of them in the wetlands enclosure.
The Tracy Aviary is located inside Liberty Park, near downtown Salt Lake City. Adult admission is $7 and children ages 3-12 are $5. Children under age three are free and discounts for seniors, military and groups are available. We have been members of the Tracy Aviary two different times. A few years ago, the membership was less expensive and with reciprocal benefits at some of our other favorite places, it was a bargain we couldn’t pass up. The membership price is still competitive and would pay for itself within about three visits.
The Tracy Aviary doesn’t demand a full, exhausting day, but after two or three hours there, you could spend another hour or more visiting Liberty Park’s playground and splash pad, take a ride on the carousel, walk around the park or enjoy a picnic near the pond.
This post appeared on Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.