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Geoffrey McAllister, Deseret News
Three-year-old Chad Bromley of Lehi feeds a pair of Sun Conures birds along side his sisters Eva, 7, and Lucy, 5, at Tracy Aviary, Wednesday, June 18, 2008. A new $450,000 walk-in exhibit that was announced today will allow similar close interaction with up to 30 birds. Construction for the exhibit should begin after Labor Day.

The Tracy Aviary plans to renovate its rusting flight cage into a state-of-the-art Utah wetlands exhibit, officials announced Wednesday morning.

The Kennecott Wetland Immersion Experience will cost $450,000.

About 25 percent of the cost will be donated by Kennecott companies and the rest will come from private donors and government entities, such as Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.

Crews will replace netting on the 1952 cage and will make other improvements required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said aviary executive director Tim Brown.

The cage will also be landscaped with reeds, cat tails and other native Utah plants.

The project is expected to be complete by spring 2009. Visitors to the aviary will be able to walk inside the 3,600-square-foot cage on a boardwalk over shallow water.

They will see Utah migratory birds face-to-face and will be able to carry laminated cards identifying the creatures.

"Immersion experiences are the best way to connect kids with nature," Brown said.

Curators at the aviary are unsure which specific birds will inhabit the exhibit but expect to include white-faced Ibis and yellow-headed and red-wing blackbirds.

The improvements are a small part of the aviary's four-phase plan to renovate the 8-acre park in the southwest corner of Salt Lake City's Liberty Park. This project wraps up the first phase.

For more information on the master plan and for hours and rates, visit tracyaviary.org.


E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com