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The original entrance.

The Flyway.

Feathered Nest

Migratory birds find a habitat at the National Zoo

The National Zoo’s Bird House has reopened after a six-year renovation. In its new iteration, three immersive aviaries house more than 170 birds representing 56 species; another 16 species inhabit outdoor exhibits in the surrounding Plateau Gardens. 

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center studies songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds native to North, Central and South Americas. “Raising awareness about the plight of migratory birds is key to their survival,” says National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute director Brandie Smith. “We want visitors to appreciate the awe-inspiring journeys these animals make every year and walk away with the knowledge to protect birds and their shrinking habitats.”

DC architecture firm Quinn Evans designed the renovation within the walls of the zoo’s historic 1928 bird house, preserving a mosaic arch depicting tropical species that adorned the original entrance. A new, modern entry now graces the building’s front façade. In the Flyway, aluminum bird silhouettes suspended from the ceiling create movement while oversized images of a wood thrush, a black-necked stilt, a sanderling, a canvasback and other native specimens hint at what’s to come. 

Renovation Architecture: Quinn Evans, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Grunley Construction Company, Inc., Rockville, Maryland.  Photography: Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

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