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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rousseau, a Green Winged Macaw, Picasso, a Blue and Gold Macaw, and Da Vinci, a Great Green Macaw, in the new macaw exhibit at the Tracy Aviary Friday May 16, 2014. The King Vulture and Macaw exhibit will be open for Memorial Day weekend.
Tracy Aviary gets its ducks in a row for improvements, expansion

Fowl friends » Director of growing aviary calls birds ‘nature’s crossword puzzle.’

By Courtney tanner

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published May 16 2014 12:49 pm • Last Updated May 16 2014 11:04 pm

Tracy Aviary is expanding.

The bird haven in Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park is growing and doing some long-needed renovation — including filling in a decades-old unused swimming pool and building new exhibit space on the site, thanks to public funds from a 2008 Salt Lake City bond and private donations.

At a glance

Ready to Hatch

Tracy Aviary is hosting a nighttime “Ready to Hatch” fundraiser that is strictly for the birds — and fun-loving adults (no kids allowed).

The event at the 8-acre aviary and gardens will feature live music by Lake Effect; hors d’oeuvres from Tin Angel Cafe, 9th South Delicatessen and Rodizio Grill and desserts by Gastronomy; along with adult beverages by Vine Lore and Red Rock Brewing. There also will be a silent auction.

When » Friday, May 30, 6:30 p.m.

Where » Tracy Aviary, 589 E. 1300 South

Tickets » $75 per person; available at tracyaviary.org

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"This [swimming pool] area has been off limits to the public for the past 70 years or so," says Tim Brown, aviary executive director. "It’s right in the middle of the aviary.

"This is an awesome time to walk around our beautiful grounds," he adds. "We continue each and every year to raise the bar."

This week the aviary is opening a King Vulture and macaw exhibit, featuring a pair of vultures and three macaws.

Longer term, officials are starting to plan a major new "tropical paradise" building.

The proposed building will extend half an acre beyond the existing 8-acre space into the former children’s garden area.

As envisioned, the future addition will feature new "colorful and boisterous" birds from locations worldwide, although the species and numbers are still being decided.

Brown hopes the building will be finished and open to the public in 2016. He estimates the cost will come in around $2 million.

"It’s going to be phenomenal," he says. "As with all of our projects, I think it adds another really cool experience for our visitors."

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Todd Reese, director of the city’s Parks and Public Lands Program, says while the city owns the land, birds and buildings of the aviary, the tropical addition is the brainchild of Brown and his colleagues.

"The schematic designs are being developed. They look great," Reese says. "We’ve seen them and they’re moving forward with design and development with more to come later."

The proposed bird exhibit is shaped as an irregular circle and will sit east of the visitors center.

Reese says the aviary is an asset to the community and is one of only a few city-owned aviaries in the nation.

"We take the goal of connecting people to nature very seriously," Brown says. "And we try to do that not only through our bird selection, but also through the environment that we provide for the visitors."

Brown, aviary executive director for a decade, continues a lifelong fascination with birds, which he describes as "nature’s crossword puzzle."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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