Kody, the wayward Steller’s Sea Eagle who escaped from the National Aviary last year, is back in his newly renovated home at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
On Friday, the aviary unveiled Kody’s new home as well as a renovated space for the aviary’s two bald eagles, Flinn and Independence.
Kody has been an ambassador for Steller’s Sea Eagles, helping visitors learn about how overfishing and habitat loss affect this species in their home range in Russia and Japan. Kody’s next-door neighbors at the aviary, the bald eagles, were injured in the wild.
“The reopening of our eagle habitats has been long anticipated by staff and guests alike,” said Cheryl Tracy, executive director of the National Aviary. “Kody, Flinn and Indy, like every bird at the National Aviary, are incredibly dear to us, and their care is our priority.”
On Sept. 25, Kody (short for Kodiak) escaped from his outdoor enclosure. he was caught within nine days in Pine Township by avian staff and volunteers, aided by hundreds of tips from the public.
Since then, Kody, who is about 16 years old, has been living behind the scenes at the aviary in one of its habitats until his outdoor room was renovated. Supply-chain issues slowed down the construction process, aviary staff said.
When Kody returned to the aviary in October after his escape, he was healthy, said Cathy Schlott, director of the aviary’s Animal Programs and Experiences.
Schlott was among a group of staff and volunteers who camped out in the spots where Kody was seen while on his jaunt through Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.
“We were so excited and there were so many emotions to have Kody back,” she said.
When the bird returned to his aviary home, “he was relaxed and happy. He ate right away and took a bath. He was his normal happy Kody,” Schlott said. The eagle also headed straight to the avian staff who care for him.
Kody was placed in his newly refurbished home earlier this week. The eagle was instantly curious, she said, and went for a swim in his new pool and explored all of the perching and roosting limbs.
“He settled in fast,” spokeswoman Molly Toth said.
Kody’s new space is customized with multiple perches and roosting spots, a pool and a misting system to simulate rain. The outdoor enclosure is only visible to the public from inside the aviary.
Both eagle displays are located in The Charity Randall Foundation Eagle Hall. The spaces were designed using state-of-the-art materials and features that encourage natural behaviors.
Both eagle habitat renovations include taller, weather-resistant walls, an overhang for shade, natural trees and plants, as well as a completely new roof that allows for fresh air flow and sunshine into the spaces.
The National Aviary is home to more than 500 birds. More information is available on the aviary’s websiteaviary.org.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter †