Birds of Many Feathers Will Flock Together

Anyone who has remodeled a house knows that you most always run into the unexpected. The recent remodel of the Zoo’s Dan Moran Aviary has been no exception. First, we carefully moved more than 30 birds to a Zoo holding area called overwintering, where the birds--from small passerines (or songbirds such as tanagers and cardinals), waterfowl, gamebirds, doves, turacos and shorebirds—can temporarily live during cold months.

One of the projects included tearing out and rebuilding a new pool for the birds. The old pool would not hold water even after we had tried repairing it several times.  Since conserving water is one of the Zoo’s missions, we could no longer justify constantly running water to keep it filled. Although we knew it would be a lot of work, the bird team volunteered to jack hammer out the pool and assist in the construction of the new one.

Once we started jack hammering, we found that the pool had been resurfaced with concrete three times since the original construction 32 years ago by a small in-house construction team.  Each additional layer was about four inches thick before even reaching the original pool. Needless to say, we encountered almost twice the amount of concrete than we had anticipated. With sheer determination and teamwork, we broke up the pool and luckily had a great group of volunteers from OSU that hauled off all of the concrete for us.

Now, with a bigger hole in the ground than we needed to construct a smaller pool, we had to raise the drain to the correct depth. When extending the drain line, we discovered the line had broken sometime in the past, which solved the mystery of why the old pool would not hold water. Consequently, we had to dig down almost another three feet to reach and repair the busted pipe. Next, we hauled in dirt to create the shape of the new pool, mixed concrete and poured the pool. The Zoo’s graphics team has helped the bird team with painting techniques so that the pool has a natural look.

Finally, the bird team removed plant material, tore out the old public rails and painted the entire inside of the building. Contractors have begun the construction of new mesh for each of the exhibits. The project took a lot of “unearthing” to remodel the pool, and to create an appealing and comfortable place for all our birds to drink, bathe and play. We hope you will come out in the spring when we reopen the building and enjoy the new exhibit, which will house more bird species from around the world.

– Eddie Witte, assistant curator of birds


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