Bird Kingdom and Oh Canada Eh?
So far I had already enjoyed a great day, full of action: after a tour of the tropical court yard at the Best Western Cairn Croft I had gotten a great 360 degree view over Niagara Falls from its most famous landmark: the Skylon Tower. A wonderful IMAX movie “Niagara Falls: Miracles, Myths and Magic” introduced me to the colourful history of this place, and the actual vessels of many daredevils who had gone over the Falls (in some cases with tragic results) sent shivers up my spine in the Daredevils Gallery, also housed in the Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre. Then, my first hand exploration of these majestic waterfalls as part of the “Journey Behind The Falls” experience gave me an up-close and personal impression of the sheer power of the millions of litres of water that tumble over the edge of the Horseshoe Falls every second.
One of the viewing portals in the tunnels behind the Horseshoe Falls
Now that I was thoroughly chilled on this grey and clammy day, I was looking for a quieter place where I could warm up and I found the perfect spot: Bird Kingdom, a tropical aviary housed in the former 1907 Spirella Corset Factory.This building, one of the first concrete poured buildings in Canada, housed the Niagara Falls Museum from 1958 until 2000.
A tiny tropical bird at Bird Kingdom
Bird Kingdom is a relatively new attraction in Niagara Falls: the building was purchased in 2000 and a new 50,000 square foot addition enlarged the original space. Today the complex houses a number of different bird habitats. The first one I saw is the small aviary that houses more than 40 species of small birds, some very colourful. On the east side of the exhibit there is a large panorama window that overlooks the Niagara Gorge. All sorts of cheerful bird songs filled the air and little birds were flitting all over the place.
From here I passed into the nocturnal area which houses all sorts of creatures that come awake at night: from owls to bats to crickets and various reptiles you get a good look at animals that normally remain hidden from us. These animals would normally be asleep in the day time, but a smart strategy of keeping the rooms dark during the day and turning the lights on during the night reverses the body clock of these elusive creatures so visitors can actually experience them.