Winging It: Birds in Flight – All new show for 2013!

Get a bird’s-eye view of the world of hawks, vultures, pelicans, owls and other raptors and shorebirds in Winging It: Birds in Flight. This 30-minute daily program provides a rare opportunity to see birds on the wing at close range. Enjoy an all-new show for 2013 that uses a television science program theme, starring Professors Byrd and Knurd. New to the winged cast this is Steven Seagull, a juvenile laughing gull.

As the creatures swoop and squawk around Big Rock Theater, they deliver important conservation messages along with family fun. The Aquarium staff points out actions individuals can take to help each of the different species represented in the program, and all their feathered cousins.

The featured birds are found in various parts of the state, and most travel long distances according to the seasons. Showcasing migratory birds emphasizes the connections among wide-ranging habitats.

All of the Aquarium birds have troubles that prevent their release into the wild. Some have permanent injuries that impair their abilities to find food. Others are imprinted animals, meaning they were bred in captivity or otherwise became conditioned to depending on humans for food.

Tickets are $4 per person in addition to admission; no charge for “infants in arms” ages 2 and under. Memberships do not include admission or discounts to this special program.

Meet the flight crew

Here are some of the birds you might meet during the show

Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

This large hawk species can spot a mouse from 300 feet.

Name: Aruni
Gender: Male
Age: Approximately 12
Background: Partially healed fracture in his left wing; unable to fly well enough for release. Admitted to Carolina Raptor Center in 2008 at approximately eight years old.
Diet: Small mice and beef heart; occasionally voles

Barn owl (Tyto alba)

A pair of barn owls can catch up to 60 mice in an hour.

Name: Alba
Gender: Female
Age: Hatched 2010
Background: Imprinted; hatched at the Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in New York. Came to the Aquarium when she was four months old.
Diet: Small mice and beef heart


American kestrel (Falco sparverius)

The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America.

Name: Hamlet
Gender: Male
Age: Unknown
Background: Eye injury affects depth perception. Came to the Aquarium from Great Basin Wildlife Rescue in Utah.
Diet: Small mice and beef heart

Broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus)

This species migrates as far South as Peru for the winter.

Name: Jack
Gender: Male
Age: Unknown
Background: Partially healed fracture in left wing; can only fly short distances. Came to the Aquarium from a rehabilitation facility in Texas.
Diet: Small mice and beef heart

Great-horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

The talons of a great-horned owl can exert 250 pounds of pressure per square inch when squeezing its prey.

Name: Abira
Gender: Unknown
Age: Unknown
Background:  Retinal damage in both eyes. Came to the Aquarium in Admitted to the Carolina Raptor Center in South Carolina in November 2011.
Diet: Mice, beef heart and the occasional vole

Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Once nearly extinct, brown pelicans were taken off the endangered species list in 2009.

Name: Charli
Age: Unknown
Background: Imprinted after wandering into a backyard, where people fed her. Came to the Aquarium from the Christine Beatty Florida Wild Mammal Association.
Diet: Smelt, menhaden and anchovies



Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura septentrionalis)

The turkey vulture is one of the few birds with a developed sense of smell – it can detect decaying meat from 20 miles away.

Name: Achilles
Gender: Female
Age: Hatched 2008
Background: Imprinted; hatched at Great Bend Zoo in Kansas
Diet: Beef heart, mice and Bird of Prey (BOP), a specially formulated diet for raptors

Black Vulture (Caragyps atratus)

Black vultures and other vultures are intelligent, with a learning capacity about equal to that of a four-year-old child.

Name: Willis
Gender: Male
Age: Hatched 2009
Background: Imprinted
Diet: Beef heart, mice and Bird of Prey (BOP), a specially formulated diet for raptors

Name: Bart
Gender: Male
Age: Hatched 2005
Background: Imprinted; was an educational animal at the Alabama 4-H Youth Development Center before coming to the Aquarium.
Diet: Beef heart, mice and Bird of Prey (BOP), a specially formulated diet for raptors


Laughing Gull

This black-headed gull is known for its call that resembles a harsh laugh. Its complex language also includes mewing, cawing and squealing sounds.

Name: Steven
Gender: Unknown
Age: Juvenile
Background: Fractured right wing; found on the Morehead City waterfront and brought to the Aquarium in July 2012