Aug 23 2011

Great Fun at SkyDeck!

Published by at 10:02 am under Books & Events

Yesterday 37 bird blog and peregrine fans gathered at the National Aviary to see the sights, learn about birds and watch the Sky Deck show.   We had fun!

Steve Sarro, Director of Animal Programs, gave us a wonderful tour and taught us a lot about birds.

The favorite thing I learned is this:  Steve told us that African penguins add 50% to their weight just before they molt and then they lose all their feathers at once!  It takes several weeks to grow them back.  One of the Aviary’s African penguins, Elvis, is molting right now and he sure looks shaggy.  He’s in a good mood but he’s having a couple of “bad hair weeks.”

Up at Sky Deck, the weather was perfect for flying and the birds were awesome.  Amut, the lanner falcon, flew for the lure and used amazing “sneak attacks” by flying below the building’s edge, then popping up over Sky Deck to hit it.   Heather Jacoby got a nice photo of her on the glove, above.  Sharon Leadbitter sent this video.  Go, Amut!


Much as we love falcons, everyone agreed that the black kites were the best.  All six of them flew above us snatching food out of the air.  At one point three of them went for the same airborne morsel and gracefully avoided a midair collision.  Click on Heather’s photo of the black kite (below) to see Sharon’s video of them flying.


We had a great time on our afternoon full of birds as you can see by our smiling faces.  Thanks to all of you for coming!    And thanks to Heather and Sharon for sending links to their photos.  If you have photos you’d like to share, leave a comment with your links below.


p.s. The Aviary is open all year, but Sky Deck is just a summertime show so visit now while the weather is perfect for flying.  For more information see the National Aviary website at

(Lanner falcon and black kite photos by Heather Jacoby.  Group photo and Sky Deck videos by Sharon Leadbitter.)

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Great Fun at SkyDeck!”

  1. Kate St. Johnon 23 Aug 2011 at 10:05 am

    Here are links to more of Heather’s and Sharon’s photos and videos from Sky Deck:

    Heather Jacoby’s Flickr album:

    Sharon Leadbitter’s additional videos:
    Feeding the Grackle:
    Lanner Falcon flying:
    Kookaburra laughing:

  2. Peteron 23 Aug 2011 at 10:41 am

    Picked out some of my favorites and uploaded them here:

  3. Kate St. Johnon 23 Aug 2011 at 10:53 am

    Here’s Peter’s picture of Steve with Elvis the penguin:
    Notice how white Elvis looks because he’s molting.

  4. Patsyon 23 Aug 2011 at 11:30 am

    Kate, I didn’t get to talk with you before I left the Aviary yesterday, so I want to thank you for a most enjoyable and informative afternoon. Will look forward to a possible ” 2nd annual” gathering. Patsy

  5. Sharon Leadbitteron 23 Aug 2011 at 11:47 am

    … and here’s the link to my photos.

    I also found out that the Aviary has a FB page and if you are so inclined they would appreciated photos and / or videos

  6. Sheree Daughertyon 23 Aug 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you, Kate, for organizing such an enjoyable afternoon! I agree, the Black Kites were the highlight of the day.

  7. Joshon 23 Aug 2011 at 12:49 pm

    No sky deck for me. School’s already started 🙁

  8. Heather Jacobyon 23 Aug 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Peter – amazing pictures! You even got the Rhino. Hornbill! And the falcon on the lure! 🙂

    Sharon: Loved the videos! Will have to listen to the kookaburra laugh whenever I could use a “giggle.” (Thanks, Giggles!) I was wishing I had a video camera with me. I wonder if my phone will record…

    Anybody have a kookaburra ring-tone? 😉

  9. Donnaon 23 Aug 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Kate, Thanks again for for organizing the First Annual Falcon Watchers Reunion. So glad the weather cooperated so that we could enjoy SkyDeck. The birds were amazing! Here are some of my favorite photos from the day:

  10. Anne Curtison 01 Sep 2011 at 1:32 am

    A little late, but Tim and I add our thanks to you, Kate, for organizing such an enjoyable afternoon, and to all the congenial people who made it even more fun!

    Since that time, a gal from Busch Gardens was on Jay Leno, talking about vultures and anti-inflammatories that attack their kidneys, and Steve S was quoted in the paper about International Vulture Awareness Day. And we were on the cusp!

    Anne Curtis

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