Birds of Eden, situated in The Crags just 16km from Plettenberg Bay, is the largest single free-flight bird aviary in the world, spanning over 2.3 hectares of indigenous forest. Located adjacent to its sister sanctuary, Monkeyland, Birds of Eden is home to over 3,500 birds of 205 different species.
Established in 2005 from the need to create a safe environment in which to release a large collection of free-flight birds, the dome took 4 years and R9 million to complete. One of the sanctuary’s main goals is to educate the public about the adverse effects of keeping wild animals as pets, for both physical and psychological reasons. Bird owners can apply to release their pet birds into the sanctuary, after they have undergone the necessary rehabilitation. All birds have to be flying fit, socialised, and on the correct diet before being introduced into the aviary.
The walk through aviary is exquisitely constructed with wooden walkways that weave through the lofty trees and hanging vines of the forest (70% of which is indigenous). Although the forest bears seasonal fruit, Birds of Eden ensures that there is always plenty of food for every type of indigenous and exotic bird. Feeding stations are set up along the walkways where you can watch close up as birds peck at the fresh fruit and veg, germinated sunflower seeds, oats, and corn.
As you wind your way through the forest, you’ll notice a mysterious ruin with a walk-behind waterfall, a natural stream with fresh mountain water, a 20m suspension bridge made from invasive black wattle, several ponds and dams, a restaurant, and a souvenir store where you will find cool memorabilia to mark the occasion. There is also a 200-seater amphitheatre that has been used for everything from school trips and art groups, to christenings and a barefoot wedding.
Birds of Eden comprises an equal combination of exotic and indigenous birds, including previously caged pets and hand-reared birds. Exotic birds you can expect to see include the Caribbean Flamingo, Scarlet Ibis, Mute Swan, Golden Pheasant, Mandarin Duck, Fulvous whistling Duck, Ruppell’s Parrot, Jandaya Conure, Cockatiel, and the Channel-billed Toucan. Of the many indigenous birds to be spotted, you will more than likely see the African Spoonbill, Kenya Crested Guinea Fowl, Blue Crane, Crowned Crane, Senegal Parrot, Green Turaco, Grey Loerie, Red-billed Hornbill, and Royal/Golden Breasted Starling. Keep an eye out for the renowned Knysna Loerie! Visitors can walk around the facility on their own or enjoy a guided tour. The Jandura Café awaits hungry visitors with a mouth-watering array of foods to suit every palate.