Ever since we moved to New Bern last November, many of the local artists and photographers have recommended that we visit Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. Once the warmer weather and Spring flowers arrived we decided it was time to go.
I have mixed feelings about zoos, as many of you probably do as well. It's distressing to see animals that should be wild and free kept contained, while at the same time I'm grateful for the conservation efforts of zoos and the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures in person. But Sylvan Heights Bird Park is not a typical zoo.
Since we waited out the morning thunderstorms, we didn't arrive till after lunch, just in time for the keeper talk about Nefertiti, the adolescent King vulture. I should mention at this point that I have a mild fear of birds. No, not birds, just large bird's beaks. Naturally, Nefertiti could sense my hesitation and made a bee-line for me.
I wincingly stood my ground only to discover she was interested in my shoelaces. She was actually quite sweet.
From there we entered the Australia exhibit where we were greeted by a Victoria crowned pigeon who had become separated from its group. This pigeon is the size of a large chicken but with the most beautiful blue-gray and maroon plumage!
In the Eurasia exhibit, we saw one of my favorite birds, the Indian peacock.
The North America exhibit was filled with various waterfowl. These gorgeous wood ducks brought back memories of the pair that used to live next to the pond behind our house in Massachusetts.
We strolled down the several nature walks that are part of the bird park and encountered this broad-headed skink with two tails! Apparently, this is not uncommon. Many lizards have the ability to re-grow their tail if the original one breaks off. In some cases, the tail breaks but doesn't fall completely off so the old one grows along with the new tail.
In the South America exhibit, we saw another of my favorite birds, the scarlet ibis. Lots of them, in fact. These birds get their intense coloration from the red crustaceans they eat, just like flamingos do.
Lastly, we entered the landing zone where visitors are given the opportunity to feed budgies, small parrots, and flamingos. With my fear of large beaks, I avoided the flamingos but was absolutely entranced with the budgies and parrots. Kevin even joined in on the fun.
It was a beautiful, magical day and we will definitely be visiting again.
Do you have a favorite zoo or nature center? Please tell me about it. Seriously, I want to know - I may have to make a visit there!
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