Open 9 am - 2 pm (Early Close)
Shedd Aquarium will be closing at 2:00 p.m. today for a private event.

From tiny hummingbirds to giant ostriches, vibrant peacocks and majestic eagles, the birds that inhabit our blue planet are incredible and awe-inspiring.

  • A large black cormorant sits in a nest at the SANCCOB facility in South Africa, peering at the camera with a beady black eye.
  • Two white-faced whistling ducks in Shedd's verdant Amazon Rising habitat stand close together and peer at the camera.
  • Red tailed hawk Athens sits before a blue background
  • Two stunning bright red macaws lift their large, blue-tipped wings in Shedd's Oceanarium.
  • A crowd of 'blues', juvenile penguins who have recently shed their fluffy chick feathers in favor of sleek waterproof feathers, wait for their turn for feeding at SANCCOB.

Thirteen of earth’s 10,000 species of birds call Shedd home, but why would birds live at an aquarium?

1. They are connected to aquatic ecosystems

Birds play important roles in aquatic ecosystems, living near bodies of water, hunting from water and more. At Shedd, birds show us the full picture of aquatic habitats, the animals that live there and how they can interact.

2. They inspire us to take action

The birds at Shedd help us to start conversations about critical threats to our feathered friends, such as deforestation, habitat loss and encroachment, the illegal pet trade, poaching and more.

Help us continue to protect birds and wildlife through policy changes. Sign up for Surge.

““There’s nothing like those emotional moments when guests make connections with wildlife and are inspired to care more deeply about protecting the environments where they live.”

Maris Muzzy - Animal Care Manager

3. They are ambassadors for their species

The birds at Shedd are ambassadors for their species and offer an incredible opportunity to look nature in the eye and see animals up close that we may only spot high in the sky or darting through the water in their natural habitats. 

Two white-faced whistling ducks in Shedd's verdant Amazon Rising habitat stand close together and peer at the camera.

White faced whistling ducks in Shedd's Amazon Rising exhibit.

Let’s meet some of Shedd’s avian ambassadors!


Many are familiar with Shedd’s famous penguins, like Wellington who was named “Chicagoan of the Year” in 2021. Did you know there are more than 30 penguins that call Shedd home? Shedd cares for two species of penguins — rockhopper and the Magellanic penguins — that live together in the Polar Play Zone, hopping on the rocks in their habitat or “flying” underwater as fast as 15 miles per hour. Of the two species, rockhoppers stand out with red eyes, orange beaks and long chrome yellow crest feathers like wild eyebrows.

Magellanic penguins have short, squat legs and waddle awkwardly around on land, but their torpedo-shaped bodies and thin, crescent-shaped wings propel them easily through water!

Two magellanic penguins.

Rockhopper penguins have long, wispy feathers that sweep back from above their eyes like eyebrows.

A rockhopper penguin.

Green-winged macaws

Serrano and Poblano, Shedd’s 13-year-old pair of green-winged macaws, can often be seen stretching their wings in the Oceanarium between their animal caretakers. In flight they can be recognized by their vibrant red bodies.

Macaws are experts at dispersing seeds across their habitats in the Amazon rainforest, and many of the tropical lowland forests of Central and South America. Macaws eat fruit, seeds, berries and nuts, which travel through their digestive system and are dropped across the environment. With a healthy rainforest, we avoid soil erosion, help with climate control and maintain a healthy water cycle.

Two stunning bright red macaws lift their large, blue-tipped wings in Shedd's Oceanarium.

Two green-winged macaws, Poblano and Serrano, in Shedd's Abbott Oceanarium.

Two macaws sit on the wrists of two Shedd trainers, wings outstretched.

Wattled jaçana 

Wattled jaçanas, native to the seasonally flooded Amazon, are perfectly adapted to life on the water! Their long legs, splayed toes and nails help to evenly distribute their weight to gracefully walk over lily pads and other floating vegetation on the water’s surface. Visit the wattled jaçana in Amazon Rising!

A wattled Jacana bird stands on a brand in front of grass.

A wattled jaçana in Shedd's Amazon Rising exhibit.

Birds of prey

The red-tailed hawks, barred owl and great horned owl at Shedd are native to the Chicago area as well as to the Pacific Northwest ecosystem portrayed in the Abbott Oceanarium. These wild birds found a permanent home here after interactions with humans or other events left them unable to survive on their own.

A barred owl looks forward with green leaves in background.

Barred owl Rainier was found as a nestling and illegally raised in a home, leaving him dependent on humans to survive.

Great horned owl Logan has long groups of feathers just above his eyes that tuft out from the sides of his head like horns.

An injury when great horned owl Logan was a fledgling 15 years ago left him blind in one eye. Although surgery helped to restore most of his vision, Logan’s sight impairment would keep him from thriving on his own in his natural habitat.

Red tailed hawk Athens sits before a blue background

Red-tailed hawk Athens arrived at Shedd in April 2010, and could only flutter and flap for short distances after having been hit by a car.

Hawk-headed parrot

Hawk-headed parrots are also called the red-fan parrot because, when scared or excited, they can raise their red-colored neck feathers to form an elaborate fan around their heads. This display plumage is unique among other related species of parrots. Look up in Amazon Rising to see the hawk-headed parrots perched in the trees.

A hawk headed parrot lifts a strawberry to its beak.

A hawk-headed parrot eating a strawberry in Shedd's Amazon Rising exhibit.