CityView Magazine

May 2022

CityView Magazine - Fayetteville, NC

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16 May 2022 TWO HOURS AWAY S ylvan Heights Bird Park, roosted in Scotland Neck, is home to the largest waterfowl collection in the world. All told, the park hosts more than 260 species of exotic birds in a mind-boggling array of sizes, shapes and colors. Just over two hours north of Fayetteville, the destination is a perfect day trip for families and a dream for photographers. Sylvan Heights was founded by "e Waterfowl Man" Mike Lubbock and his wife, Ali, in 1981 in the mountains of North Carolina aer the couple moved from England. Both talented aviculturists, they relocated their bird collection to rural Scotland Neck in 1989 when an 18-acre swampy swath of land became available. For the birds The winged wonders of Sylvan Heights inspire awe, admiration STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTINA BURNHAM "We started out 35 years ago with the Breeding Center, selling birds to zoos and private collections," Mike recalled. "But we wanted to share our varied collection of waterfowl with people, so we decided to create a park to educate the public. e whole area was woods, swamps and hill. I walked friends through where I wanted to put the park, with rubber boots because it was wet and boggy, and they said, 'You're nuts! No way you can create anything here.'" Undeterred, Mike enlisted the aid of the North Carolina Zoological Society, which helped Sylvan Heights get the funding to start construction. e park opened to the public in 2006. It has grown tremendously in those 16 years and now boasts eight walk- through aviaries and multitudes of other exhibits and interactive activities. at interactivity is what makes Sylvan Heights so unique among zoos and conservation facilities. "e way I designed it was people would interact with the birds, go into the pens, the birds would be flying around. You don't know there's netting over the top, so it gives you the feeling you're in the wild with these birds" Mike said. Upon first arriving, guests walk through the main building out into the Multinational aviary, which hosts several colorful species of ducks and American flamingos. If you're not shy, head to the Landing Zone aviary and purchase some seed sticks and waterfowl pellets to feed the birds inside. Scores of parakeets and parrots will descend to your arms to snack on the seeds, and even the flamingos wading nearby will eat pellets from your open palm. "You get children going in there scared to start with, and then suddenly the birds come and land and 'ese birds aren't gonna hurt me. And the whole feeling goes the other way. en you can't get (the kids) out of there. So, we say that's a good place for Mike and Ali Lubbock founded Sylvan Heights Bird Park to educate the public. The park is home to more than 260 species.

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