Smithsonian National Zoo’s New Bird House Highlights Migratory Birds’ Incredible Journeys

Ruddy ducks in the Prairie Pothole Aviary.
Ruddy ducks in the Prairie Pothole Aviary. / Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
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A person holding a white-throated sparrow
A biologist holds a white-throated sparrow after it was caught in a mist net at the bird banding station. / Kat Long

“We don’t want to be in a situation—the California condor is a good example—where it got down to, like, 20 birds, and all of the sudden they’re pulling these birds in from the wild into a captive setting [to save them],” Hallager says. “We don’t want to be down to 20 indigo buntings and realize, oh my gosh, we have to rescue these birds from the wild. So we’re figuring this stuff out now. It’s very much a proactive approach to looking ahead. 

“Now’s the time to learn about these animals while we can still learn about them.”