NORWALK, Conn. -- Dave Sigworth, publicist for the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, will never see birds the same way.
After spending nearly a week with more than 50 friendly lorikeets, Sigworth says that when he leaves the birds' 1,800-square-foot enclosure, he expects robins and ravens to fly up to him.
“They’ll land on you,” Sigworth said of the lorikeets. “They’ll land on heads, too, and unexpectedly at that."
Visitors to the aquarium (as part of the regular admission charge) will be allowed to enter and walk through the new lorikeet exhibit, which will open to the public on Saturday.
Before entering the exhibit, visitors can also purchase a $3 cup of nectar. This small cup of nectar, paired with outstretched arms, has the power to attract scores of Lories and Lorikeets. The birds may perch on you and use their unique brush-tipped tongues to feed on this sweet liquid.
The beautifully colored birds will be housed in a new aviary out on the riverfront courtyard. The exhibit offers 56 Lorikeet and Lory birds from nearly a dozen species. The birds include the entirely green Weber’s Lorikeet as well as the rainbow-strewn Ornate Lory.
The birds are native to the South Pacific, but these birds were hand-raised by Ken Werner, owner of Gulf Coast Butterflies in Naples, Fla. The birds are trained for hand-feeding and visitor interaction.
The Lorikeets and Lories are 6 months to 4 years old. The eggs are incubated and separated from parents in order to adapt the birds to human contact. Werner’s two daughters often take the birds into the house and even named an affectionate one “Kisses.”
Werner joined forces with Kraig Anderson of Spineless Wonders and began exhibiting Lorikeets and Lories when he saw that many exhibits advertised just Green-Backed Lorikeets. Werner hopes to integrate more diversity into his exhibits to “educate people on the birds and their origins.”
“This exhibit has 11 different species of Lorikeets and Lories. There is so much color in it with all the variety,” he said.
Kerry Dobson, department manager, is eagerly awaiting the opening. “This will be a hands-on, interactive experience for the visitors. It’s a new and exciting experience for us,” Dobson said.
The exhibit will be open from the Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day weekend.
Some important items to note about the "Lorikeets” exhibit:
• It will be handicapped-accessible but no strollers will be allowed. • Visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands before entering. • To encourage the birds to rest, the exhibit will close for a half-hour at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily. • The Maritime Aquarium cannot guarantee birds will feed from your nectar cup. • Poop happens! The birds are free flying. There are cleanup kits available if you happen to be one of the lucky ones. • For anyone with an aversion to close encounters with birds, viewing of the lorikeets will be possible from outside the aviary.
For more information on the exhibit and admission fees, visit the website for the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk or call 203-852-0700.
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