Arctic Aviary: Very cool!
Not all Arctic animals are big and white; most aren’t even furry. We’ve brought some of these feathered denizens to San Diego: diving ducks and shorebirds, such as buffleheads, smews, and mergansers. A covered aviary with the chilled pond and underwater viewing window and sandy beaches help the shorebirds feel at home.
These highly specialized waterfowl overcome their natural buoyancy by reducing the amount of air in their feathers, lungs, and air sacs. This results in less oxygen available for diving, so the ducks slow their heart rate during diving to conserve their scant oxygen supply when it’s most needed.
The water in our pond is kept at a comfortable 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius), which is just right for the ducks. You’ll also see barnacles, mussels, and starfish in the icy water, but they aren’t real! Those creatures need saltwater to survive, and our diving duck pond is filled with fresh water for easier maintenance.