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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Delaware Bay aviary at the National Zoo with shorebirds and ducks
Shorebirds like sanderlings and short-billed dowitchers (on the sand) and blue-winged teals populate the Delaware Bay Aviary. / Kat Long

First on the circular route is the Delaware Bay Aviary, a gorgeous, immersive recreation of a mid-Atlantic salt marsh populated with shorebirds and ducks. As recordings of laughing gulls play overhead, large saltwater tanks suggestive of a vibrant estuary hold fish and horseshoe crabs. The sandy shores are built at eye level, so guests can get a close look at the red knots, ruddy turnstones, and blue-winged teals—which are not behind glass or nets, but are free to fly among people walking through their habitat.