Salt Lake City with kids: Fish head bird-day cakes

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A Condor, on his 57th Birthday, opening presents

What do you get the Andean Condor who has everything? A swinging bachelor pad, prime Salt Lake City real estate in trendy Liberty Wells area, his very own Facebook page? A fish head cake will do.

 We took the kids to the Tracy Aviary Saturday, Jan. 16 for Andy the Andean Condor’s birthday party. The bird turned 57 years old, which is very old for an Andean Condor (wild ones anyway – captive birds have made it to the late 70s).

This was our first time to hit up Andy’s birthday party. The weather was perfect – not too cold, but cool enough for the birds to be especially active. The snow on the ground was pretty, but not annoying.

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Evie models her condor mask

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Norah’s card features his favorite food: mice. Evie’s shows Andy eating carrion.

The girls got to get right into the act by making condor masks to wear, and writing and decorating birthday cards for Andy at the arts and crafts station inside the old mill. The volunteers and staff at the Aviary have always been great with the kids – patiently answering questions and energetically helping out with activities and talking about the bird world.

At the craft station, kids could also help decorate Andy’s presents, but mine weren’t that patient. So we went off to see the birds. New this year is a rain forest exhibit, which houses tropical birds in a self-enclosed rain forest (complete with periodic rain).

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In the rain forest

Also fun for kids: For a handful of quarters you can buy duck feed and feed geese and ducks to your heart’s content. My kids could keep doing this for hours. And if you don’t have a handful of quarters, usually there is duck food that got dropped near the dispensers.

The aviary houses two bald eagles who had been injured in the wild and are unable to fly. During the winter months, a third bald eagle, who apparently discovered that bald eagle food is left out daily, comes to roost nearby. It’s usually hanging out in the tree above the bald eagle enclosure, if you want to try and grab a look.

After a while of watching the birds, we headed over to Andy’s enclosure to watch the birthday celebration. Andy has a pretty cool habitat. He has a large, multi-level home, complete with a little hobbit door for him to come out and take walks around the Aviary grounds.

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Andy greets his fans

Andy came out to meet his fans when his trainers called, and walked over to his pile of presents. Carefully-wrapped presents concealed carrion inside, which Andy ate in several gulps. Then Andy’s birthday ‘cake’ – a platter of fish heads and entrails – was brought out. The old man chowed down on fish heads.

The Tracy Aviary is an absolute delight for families with or without kids. We bought an annual pass because our kids love it so much.  I’ve always liked birds too, but now I really am awed by them – especially the charming, dapper, extremely handsome Andy.

We’ll definitely be at Andy’s 58th birthday and all the birthdays to follow.

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Norah spies a peacock

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The bonus bald eagle


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