Monday, May 3, 2021

Sylvan Bird Park In North Carolina Is Heaven For Bird Lovers

Green Winged MacawThe largest collection of waterfowl species in the world is in Scotland Neck, NC.

Photos and article by Dave Nershi, CSW

During pandemic times, we’ve steered clear of out-of-state trips and airplane flights in favor of day trips around North Carolina. As I flipped through my book of day trips from Raleigh-Durham, an unusual suggestion caught my eye: the Sylvan Heights Bird Park.

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The Sylvan Heights Bird Park is located in the tiny Halifax County community of Scotland Neck. It is billed as the world’s largest collection of waterfowl. My wife and I enjoy birdwatching and seeing rare and unusual birds, as we did in Australia and Costa Rica, is a treat we relish.

Masked Lapwing (1)

A World Of Bird Watching

As we entered into the 18-acre park, we were gratified to find that this is really a national-quality attraction that not only provides a glimpse of beautiful and diverse birds but is an avian breeding center where many rare and endangered waterfowl species are raised each year. Biologists and zookeepers from around the world also study and train there.

The walk-through aviaries are organized by continents. While some birds were in caged areas, a large part of the park features spacious netted aviaries which allow you to walk through the bird habitat -- and also take photos without an obstructed view.

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The variety of birds is really astounding, everything from the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill to the Black Swan, the Masked Lapwing to Temminck’s Tragopan, and Scarlet Ibis to the Whooping Crane. There are more than 2,000 species at the park, showcasing the amazing variety of shapes, colors, and behavior of the bird world.

Clockwise from upper left: Inca Tern, Blue Earred Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Landing ZoneAdmission is $12 (ages 13 to 61), $11 (seniors), $9 (ages 3 to 12) and free for children two and under. You should allow at least two hours for your visit to the park. Park hours are 9 to 5 Tuesday through Sunday. Please note that the hours for the Landing Zone (we’ll get to this in a moment) are different. It closes at 4 PM and was closed for lunch from 1 to 2 PM during our visit. We suggest buying your tickets online to avoid potentially long lines at the visitor center.

Touching Down In The Landing Zone

We had a ball exploring the different areas of the park and getting “up close and personal” with the birds. There are a couple of boardwalks that go off into the woods, which are a nice diversion but feature no displays. The park has a nice picnic pavilion and the Duck Landing restaurant serves up sandwiches and quick bites. Each meal is made to order, which is great, but it also can mean a long wait. There are numerous picnic tables.

The final stop on our visit was the Landing Zone. This is a large enclosed aviary into which a small number of guests are admitted at one time. There are scores of birds, mostly parakeets, and they will readily perch on your fingers or even head. At the visitor center, you can purchase waterfowl food pellets and seed sticks (popsicle sticks coated with seed). The parakeets love the seed sticks and interacting with the birds (and being perched upon) was a highlight of the trip.

The Sylvan Bird Park is a marquee attraction nestled off the beaten path in North Carolina. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with your feathery friends.

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