Liberty Park in Salt Lake City is home to the Tracy Aviary. I'll have several posts on this aviary because they have a really great setup. Unlike the San Francisco Zoo, all the birds are free to move around. Most of the birds are housed in large cages with fresh branches, ample shading, and a covered back area away from prying eyes.
The birds that are out in the open have large areas with shade. They were brought into the aviary with wing injuries that prevent them from flying. The aviary has a great sign in front of the eagles explaining that most of the birds were hit by cars, so there is a list of helpful suggestions to protect birds from being injured in the future, such as moving roadkill off to the side of the road.
One of the cages in the Tracy Aviary is open to the public. It houses quakers!
I love quakers. They're really smart, enthusiastic birds. One of my friends has a quaker named Sage and I adore him. He'll let you snuggle up next to him and whispers "I love you" in his scratchy quaker voice. He also gets really excited and says, "Scooby Doo" three times fast. My friend tells me that when she puts his food bowl in front of him, he'll climb up onto the rim, look at her, and say "I love you" before eating. So polite!
The Tracy Aviary had three pairs of quakers in this cage. I don't know if it was the heat or the time of day, but they were all very sleepy and cuddly with each other.
Quakers are outlawed in California because of their remarkable ability to live outside in a variety of climates. Although quakers are native to South America, there are wild populations living in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and even Illinois! I'm amazed that they can adapt to winters in Chicago.
Quakers build huge nests, typically using telephone wires as scaffolding for their nests. One of the best chapters in Of Parrots and People is about the fight to stop electric companies from destroying quakers and their nests in these cities. The electric companies argue that the nests are a fire hazard and that they cause too many power outages, but Tweti provides ample statistics that suggest that the increase in fires and power outages caused by the nests is minimal.
You can see an example of their nest making abilities below:
I love this aviary because they not only provided supplies for creating the nests; they helped the quakers by installing metal grates to form the scaffolding.