We set off well before the sun came up down the icy road from Bryce Canyon. Our destination was Salt Lake City. It was a long road, way up north, over four hours, and the cold traveled with us on our November journey. When the sky began to lighten we were just outside of the city limits. Clouds of snow dust were blowing about the mountain bases, so alien, so beautiful.
Dawn broke on the pristine mountains, now snow capped.
Could there be a better entrance to a city? We loved Salt Lake. Its streets are as pristine as its mountains. Our first stop was at the Tracy Aviary [589 1300 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84105], located in picturesque Liberty Park.
I couldn’t believe the colors in this park, the mountain in the backdrop, my goodness this was a blissful sight after a long drive. We walked around the lake and headed into the aviary, a kind of zoo just for birds, many of which have sustained life-altering injuries. Unbeknownst to us we came on a ‘Winter Wednesday,’ which meant admission was just a dollar a person, a real steal. Make sure you buy something from the gift shop if you get in that cheap! This place deserves your patronage. Most of the exhibits here are outside, so dress accordingly for the season. This place is small enough to see in an hour if you’re breezing by, but if you really want to study the birds you could spend a solid half-day on the 8-acre property. We got our map and followed it around to each point. First we went to the pelican pond and watched the waterfowl.
Then we went to go visit Andy, who would later steal our hearts. Andy is an Andean Condor who was hatched at the San Diego Zoo in 1959, they knew he was a boy from the dangle caruncle on his head. In his environment he looked sassy enough, but as we were walking around all the sudden we saw Andy on the path! What a strange encounter…no he wasn’t alone and he hadn’t escaped, this is a part of a new training program for the birds at the aviary. Andy and his trainers go for walks everyday. His stride is hilarious. He trots along bouncily and has quite the mischievous demeanor. His sheer size is quite intimidating and before I knew what was going on he was trotting my way! I stood frozen, should I punt him if he attacks me? Should I run, will he chase? A quick call from his trainer and Andy, with what I swear was a smirk on his face, bopped on back and received a piece of meat. His trainer shared with me, ‘I don’t know if we’re training him or he’s training us.’ Every time Andy approaches a person, his trainer has to call him back with a nice slab of meat…hmmm…Well, everyone wins, I did get this fabulous shot of Andy up close and personal.
We also met Barney on the trail, perched onto his trainer. The beautiful great horned owl had the most mesmerizing eyes which fixated upon you in curiosity.
We also saw peacocks slinking around, keep your eyes out for those guys and gals.
Our encounters were amazing, such fascinating birds! We took our time viewing the other birds in their enclosures. We were shocked to see the regal eagles perched in an open enclosure, and wondered why they sat so contently.
Their injuries prevent them from flying away, but they get a second chance at life here at the aviary.
I made a surprising connection with a turkey vulture who seemed to be very interested in me, as I in him.
I found I had a lot in common with the vultures, who love to soak up the afternoon sun.
We watched the odd behavior of a few flamingos in the flock.
We befriended a pheasant who ran back and forth with us.
An impromptu nest building show was going on in the parakeet house, where the birds fly freely around you.
There was so much going on at the aviary, and it was all absolutely amazing. If you are a bird or nature lover, you must visit the Tracy Aviary on your visit to Salt Lake City, they do beautiful work with the birds here.