Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) – The Aviary, Melbourne Zoo

When I was in Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary yesterday, I was very surprised to hear a visitor saying there were no birds in the enormous walk-through enclosure.  It was on the tip of my tongue to turn around and say ‘open your eyes’, because while there weren’t as many birds visible as I’ve seen on other occasions, I could see at least a dozen clearly visible in the water or tree branches less a dozen feet away.

These two Bronzewings (male with cream head and pinkish chest in the foreground) were only about 4 -5 feet away and whilst most of their feathers would blend in to the ground leaf litter from a great distance, they were clearly visible at this distance.  I don’t think I’ve shared images of this bird before.  The red flecks on their wings, despite being relatively small, stand out clearly.

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I’ve included a few more images of the Aviary interior for those followers new to my blog.  The suspended wooden walkways have been widened about 2-4 feet late last year and also a couple of the viewing platforms. My only complaint is that they’ve removed the identification plaques with the bird names from the waist-high railing.  I am no judge of distance, but the 3 photos made from various sections of the aviary only show about a quarter of its actual size.  At its lowest point near the middle, the walkway is about 3 feet above the watercourse.  Either end of the Aviary, the walkway is about 15 feet above the ground.There are 3 climatic zones within the space and it is ENORMOUS!  And while many birds are hidden in the bushy areas at ground level or high in the canopy tree tops, it’s still easy to spot many other birds in the open tree branches or in the water.

It’s a wonderful place for people like me who don’t have a car and can’t travel to see these birds in the wild.  The zoo was fairly crowded yesterday – swollen with the numbers of children and families enjoying the 6 week summer school holidays.

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