Brunch with Owls at the National Aviary

Over this past weekend, Bill and I kicked our Halloween shenanigans into high gear and attended a bunch of fun, fall events. I’ll be posting about it here all this week along with the annual mailing of the McQueen Halloween cards (I teased the picture of the card on social media, and I got the impression that I almost confused some people. Like I could practically hear people asking, why is your cat hanging out on a Twin Peaks set? Just because, that’s why.). But for now, let’s start where every conversation should begin: with raptors. Of the flying variety, not the clever girl variety (though those kind of raptors are obviously cool too).

So yesterday, I had brunch with owls. Okay, the owls did not sit at the brunch table with us (though owls are invited to my brunch table anytime). We went to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh for their owl brunch, an event we somehow missed in 2016 and thus vowed to attend this year. The festivities started with the handlers bringing out a variety of owls and introducing them to us. Then when the owls had returned to their respective perches, we dined in the special event tent on a ton of awesome brunchy foods. So technically, it was a brunch that was owl-adjacent. Still very cool in this blogger’s opinion. And probably better for the owls who likely wouldn’t have appreciated all the egg and chicken dishes being offered on the menu.

Anyhow, today I have pictures of owls to share, which is actually like a weird tic I’ve developed at this point. Seriously, if you’ve followed this site with any regularity over the years or followed my social media at all, you’ll know I seem to always find a reason to post new “Gwendolyn hanging out with owls” pictures every few months. But hey, so far as strange habits go, it’s a pretty cool one in my opinion. So onward!

Brunch with Owls

We started the day by meeting the spectacled owl. Truth be told, I was so excited that there was an owl in my midst that I forgot his name. How’s that for good manners? This *might* be Franklin. We’d met him at previous owl events at the Aviary, and he always seemed like a swell little fellow. (Also, note how I continue to use the word “met” as though there were formal handshakes and introductions or something.)

Owl Brunch

The spectacled owl was at times a bit skittish. The handler even told us a story of how they once took him to an outreach program at a gymnasium, and the basketball hoops freaked him out so much that he wouldn’t come out of his crate. I don’t like basketball much either, little owl…

Brunch with owls

All in all, however, this beautiful boy seemed quite happy to be hanging out with people. He was probably equally happy when he got to return to his home inside. Owls like to sleep in on Sundays too, I’d wager.


This is Cypress, the totally awesome and quite pint-sized eastern screech owl. If you’ve been a fan of 60 Days of Halloween over the years, you’ll know that my all-time favorite screech owl was Barkley, the adorable one-eyed darling who was the screech owl ambassador until his retirement a couple years ago. While I love Cypress a ton, I still miss Barkley. Never could I hope to discover a more perfect spirit animal than that little owl.

National Aviary Pumpkin

And finally, we got to say hello to Pumpkin! She’s a Eurasian Eagle Owl, the largest owl species on earth. Pumpkin was born at the Aviary a few years ago, and we even attended her first birthday party back in 2014 where we got to see her very first public flight. So yes, I actually feel like I know this owl. Also, yes, that sentence does make me sound like a crazy owl fangirl. #sorrynotsorry

Pumpkin Owl Brunch

Pumpkin being her typically curious and gorgeous self. Goodbye for this year, Pumpkin! We hope to see you again soon! Baby Flamingo

Just as the brunch was getting started, another handler brought out this little beauty. This is the baby flamingo, almost entirely grown up, though not quite her pink self yet. Baby Flamingo Wings

Several of the other guests went ahead inside for brunch, but Bill and I hung outside for a while to learn about the baby flamingo. After hatching just a few months ago, she’s doing well, and she’s obviously quite adorable too. Baby Flamingo

One more flamingo picture. Because it’s not just the owls that have all the fun at the Aviary! Owl Brunch Gwendolyn

And finally a picture of the brunch itself! Please note also that I’m looking quite content in this picture. That’s because I just hung out with owls. Not much placates an eccentric Halloween blogger more than that!

It should go without saying at this point, but I adore the National Aviary. They do such great work at education and conservation, and in a world filled with more uncertainty than ever, it’s comforting to know there are organizations such as this that are looking out for all members of our fragile ecosystem.

Happy Halloween, and head on back here tomorrow for more fall hijinks!