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A City Refuge for Rare Birds

Tracy Aviary's "celebirdies" put on a terrific show!

Virginia Rainey
Grunt, one of the “celebirdies” at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Courtesy Tracy Aviary
Photo caption
Grunt, one of Tracy Aviary’s “celebirdies.”

You have to admire Grunt. Despite appearing in as many as a half dozen outdoor bird shows each week, the Tracy Aviary star still manages to find time for a favorite hobby: sunbathing. "Sometimes, Grunt will sunbathe right in the middle of her act," says Julie Roehner, marketing and events coordinator at the Salt Lake City bird sanctuary.

The lush, eight-acre destination, spiffed up by major renovations over the past few years, sits inside the city's historic Liberty Park. One of only two freestanding public aviaries in the United States, the sanctuary houses more than 135 species of birds, and it has been around since 1938—longer than its oldest resident, Andy, a magnificent 58-year-old Andean condor.

Dedicated to education and conservation, the aviary boasts habitats so natural that sometimes wild birds stop by and end up staying, according to Michelle Mileham, director of education. Consider Pelican Pond, an area that has attracted freelancing fowl, such as a goldeneye and a ring-necked duck, who roost alongside collection birds. Looking around the aviary, you'll notice other decidedly relaxed residents, such as a flock of flamingos and a pair of southern ground hornbills, one of several breeding couples in a national program to revive the vulnerable species.

This article was first published in Fall 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.