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North Hills Monthly

National Aviary Opens New Andean Mountain Habitat, Introduces New Golden Eagle

Jan 30, 2019 06:56PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

Golden Eagle

On Jan. 10, the National Aviary unveiled its new Andean Mountain Habitat presented by Dollar Bank, home to two spectacular new bird species never before seen in Pittsburgh—the Andean Cock-of-the-rock and the Capuchinbird—and introduced a new Golden Eagle that will make public appearances during daily Eagle Talks.

The Andean Cock-of-the-rock is found in mountain forests particularly in ravines and along streams near the Andes Mountains. It gets its name from its preference for building nests on rocky ledges. This lively bird is recognized for its fan-shaped crest and brilliant orange-red plumage, which extends over its head and nape and down its chest, in stark contrast to its grey back, and black tail and wing feathers. In addition to its somewhat unusual appearance, the Andean Cock-of-the-rock is also a standout for the remarkable courtship displays performed by the males in groups called “leks,” in which males compete for the attention of the females with elaborate displays that include jumping up and down, wing-flapping, bill clacking and vocalizations. 

The Capuchinbird is found in the humid forests north of the Amazon River and are adorned with rust-colored feathers around a featherless, blue-grey head that resembles the hooded cloak of a Capuchin monk. Because of their distinctively deep, cow-like bellowing call, Capuchinbirds are also called calfbirds. Like the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Capuchinbirds gather in leks to perform elaborate mating displays, competing with other males for hours at a time to attract females. 

The National Aviary’s new Andean Mountain Habitat features a custom-built tree with a small pool at the base for the birds to bathe and play, strategically placed vines for perching and courtship display behaviors, ledges for nesting, natural foliage, a mister to mimic a humid forest environment, and mud and grass for nest building.

 “The National Aviary is always looking for ways to broaden awareness of the diversity of birds with whom we share this planet, and this is a rare opportunity to see these unique birds, and to learn how their adaptations support their survival,” says National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy. “To further increase appreciation for these new species, we will be holding talks in front of the habitat each day, during which visitors will learn about the birds and the work that the National Aviary is doing to inspire, lead and support conservation work in the High Andes and Ecuador.”


The National Aviary’s new Golden Eagle, a four-year-old female named Autumn, joins the National Aviary flock following rehabilitation from an injury in the wild that limited her ability to fly. Golden Eagles are native to North America, and can be spotted in Pennsylvania during their spring and fall migrations. Autumn and the National Aviary’s Bald Eagles, Flinn and Rockland, will alternate appearances during new daily Eagle Talks taking place daily at 11:30 a.m. Avian experts will share details about the birds and their behaviors, answer questions, and inform visitors of steps they can take to support wild populations of these beautiful birds of prey.

“Eagles are inspiring creatures, both beautiful and powerful. Seeing Autumn and our Bald Eagles up close will be an unforgettable experience for our guests,” says Tracy.  “We know that visitors will come away with a strong appreciation for these magnificent birds and a deeper understanding of the important role that eagles play as part of a healthy ecosystem.”

To complement the new Andean Mountain Habitat, the National Aviary’s gift shop will now feature unique artwork created by local artist and maker April Minech. Items available for purchase include scarves, canvas prints, decorative boxes, tote bags and more.

Eagle Talks take place daily at 11:30 a.m. The Andean Mountain Habitat is now open, with Andean Mountain talks presented by avian specialists daily at noon. Both talks are included with admission.

The new Andean Mountain Habitat is made possible through contributions from Dollar Bank and other corporate, individual, and foundation donors.