Sure, you go to Niagara Falls to watch 225,000 cubic feet of water per second plummet nearly 200 feet into the gorge below. After taking in the scene for 15 minutes…then what? With kids in tow, you need a plan. Luckily, there is plenty to do in Niagara Falls, especially on the Canada side. One of our favorite attractions was Bird Kingdom, home to the world’s largest indoor free-flight aviary.
You can easily spend an hour or more here, going through the three floors of exhibit space – themed as the “lost kingdom” home to hundreds of both bird and animal species. You set your own pace in each area, which for us meant less time in the Nocturnal Zone looking at the bats and Brazilian giant cockroaches (eek!), and more time in the Explorer’s Base Camp, where you can pet and talk to several animals, like Bearded Dragons and Toucans.
A row of trees lined one wall, and on each, a large exotic bird was perched. Naturally, we immediately began asking “Polly want a cracker?” Why is that so instinctive?!? We had no luck encouraging the birds to converse, but a trainer went down the line, using just the right trigger words to get them to react. Jackie, a 28-year old Blue Macaw, was especially talkative.
There are other great exhibits within this attraction, which is located in renovated 1907 Spirella Corset Company building. We didn’t have enough time to visit the kids’ archaeology dig or Lorikeet Landing, where for the price of a cup of nectar, the Australian Rainbow Lorikeets will land on you to drink from it. But we were charmed by the diminutive birds—finches, doves, tanagers— flitting about our heads in the Small Birds Aviary, until one swooped too close to The Girl’s ear, and she was done.
Our final stop was the amazing, 50,000 square feet aviary, where some 400 birds—representing 70 species—live in harmony. This vast, open space is designed to resemble a tropical rainforest, complete with a 40-foot waterfall at one end. You’ll progress down ramps from the third to the ground floor, with views from every direction.
Primarily, you’ll find species native to South America and Australia, and if you’re an avid bird watcher, you’re sure to see birds you’ll never see in your backyard. You can ask the staff members to help identify the birds, as we did with this Silver Pheasant, or you can consult the pictures on the walls.
The best part? You can get close enough to touch these beautiful creatures. The bright plumage on this Scarlet Ibis was almost too inviting not to try. It’s long, pointy beak provided the necessary deterrent.
On your way out, you’ll find the Macaw Market gift shop and the café. If you go, check the website for a coupon for admission!
Hey YOU! Go BIG!
5651 River Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 7M7, Canada