In addition to guided tours and a roster of interactive experiences, Pittsburgh’s National Aviary has opportunities for groups to get close to, interact with and hand-feed rare and beautiful birds.

Owl Encounter, National Aviary, Pittsburgh, Pa.
[/media-credit] Owl Encounter, National Aviary, Pittsburgh, Pa.

A new aracari feeding allows guests learn about the aviary’s recently acquired curl-crested aracaris. Group members also can feed these colorful, lively birds as they hop from arm to arm. Native to Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, curl-crested aracaris are among the smallest of the toucan species, and feature curled feathers on their heads and glossy red feathers around their shoulders. The National Aviary’s aracaris have been hand-raised to be comfortable around humans, and the birds are gentle and friendly with children and adults.

Groups of up to 25 people also can book an owl encounter to get close to one of the aviary’s many species of owls. In this private meet and greet, group members learn about and get (almost) nose to beak with these birds of prey. A few adventurous members have the opportunity to hold an owl on a glove.

If penguins are among visitors’ favorite birds, a penguin painting package is an unforgettable chance to interact with the National Aviary’s endangered African penguins. In this private encounter, National Aviary penguins dip their feet in a variety of paint colors and waddle across canvases as participants watch. The penguins enjoy the interaction with guests, and group members have the opportunity to talk with trainers and learn about the species while the “artists” are at work. Each group member receives a souvenir painted canvas.

Aracari and guests, National Aviary, Pittsburgh, Pa.
[/media-credit] Aracari and guests, National Aviary, Pittsburgh, Pa.

“I always tell group leaders the National Aviary is an experience like no other,” said Audrey Beichner, group sales coordinator. “Their travelers are always amazed by the closeness of the birds in our free-flight exhibits, and these new encounters add even more to our memorable group activities. Group leaders are always looking for the unusual, something to pique a group’s interest that is not offered everywhere. These encounters fit that description. Where else will can group travelers get a souvenir penguin painting that the penguin created right before their eyes, or have a small toucan eat from their hands or stand right next to and photograph an amazing owl? Guests walk away thrilled with the uniqueness of their adventure at the National Aviary.”

Additional group experience and dining packages are available.

For more information, call 412-258-9463 or visit