A game of ‘I Spy’ that is for the birds

Warm up in the Rainforest while you try to spot these bird species

Discovery Place Science

Ever wish you could take a break from the cold winter weather and transport yourself to a tropical destination? Discovery Place Science has you covered!

The Museum’s multi-level Rainforest stays at 85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and provides a great place to warm up during Charlotte’s chilliest months. It is home to more than 20 different animal species not to mention approximately 50 types of tropical plants.

The next time you step inside our Rainforest, be sure to join us in a game of “I Spy” to see how many of these bird species you can spot:


Blue and gold macaw (Ara ararauna): BJ, our blue and gold macaw, doesn’t actually fly around much. Instead, she perches above the cavernous rock area on the second level of the Rainforest. She can be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look but she’s likely to give you a big “hello” when you walk in so you know she’s there.


Western rosella (Platycercus icterotis): The western rosella is a species of parrot with a bright red head and yellow cheeks as well as green and blue in its coloring. You may not be able to easily notice them hidden among the trees but be on the lookout as they come down to cleared areas to feed on seeds.


Great blue turaco (Corythaeola cristata): Our great blue turaco spends most of his time in the top canopy of the Rainforest. He lives in the Rainforest as part of our participation in a Species Survival Plan Program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Through this program, Discovery Place participates in the management of the population of this species in captivity. He’s currently awaiting a mate.


Violet turaco (Musophaga violacea): These birds are not the strongest fliers. You’re likely to spot them running along tree branches. They have a bright red bill, yellow forehead and a violet or magenta crown. They are the only type of turaco not to have a crest on their head.


Eastern grey plantain-eater (Crinifer zonurus): A part of the turaco family, these birds are similar to the violet turaco but not as brightly colored. They are mostly grey with some brown spotting and have a yellow bill.

Turquoise tanager (Tangara Mexicana): Look for this bird in the top area of the tree canopy in the Rainforest. This bird has a dark blue face with a black bill. In addition to the vibrant blue of its feathers, you’ll notice its back is blackish as well as its wings and tail. The bird’s belly is usually pale yellow or white.


Spotted tanager (Tangara punctata): Bright green birds with a white belly, the spotted tanager is a small, active resident of the Rainforest that is usually spotted in the highest parts of the tree canopy. Unlike other tanagers, the spotted tanager does not have a yellow belly.


Red-faced parrotfinch (Erythrura psittacea): Very active and colorful, the red-faced parrotfinch likes to hide in the palms and ferns of the Rainforest. They also love water and sometimes can be spotted bathing in the Rainforest’s water features. They are predominantly green in color with a red head and throat as well as red tail feathers. They are most active in the early morning hours.


Northern red bishop (Euplectes franciscanus): A small bird that enjoys open habitats, the northern red bishop showcases a black face and crown, brown wings and longer red-orange tail feathers.


Spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana): The spangled cotinga is very colorful and usually can be spotted easily in the Rainforest tree canopy because of its brightly colored plumage. Look for bright blue feathers fluttering around on branches high in the canopy.


Pompadour cotinga (Xipholena punicea): You’ll need to look up to find this medium-sized canopy dweller that likes to perch on leafless branches. The males have a red head and body with beautiful white wings that can make it easier to spot through the trees. Females have a gray head and body.


Red-crested wood partridge (Rollulus rouloul): Game birds in the pheasant family, our crested wood partridges are usually meandering along the ground of the Rainforest. They use their feet to dig around for insects, seeds and fruit laying on the ground. Males and females look different, with the ales boasting blueish-purple feathers and a large red crest on their head. The females have green feathers and no crest.

Sulawesi ground dove (Gallicolumba tristigmata): Native to Indonesia, the Sulawesi Ground Dove is a shy bird that, as its name suggests, is predominantly terrestrial. Be sure to look on the Rainforest floor to spot one of these beauties. Look for an olive-brown colored bird with a golden forehead, yellow breast and red legs.


Red-knobbed imperial pigeon (Ducula rubricera): One of our more unusual bird species, the red-knobbed imperial pigeon is not your average pigeon. In fact, you might be surprised to discover that this beautiful bird is, in fact, a pigeon. It’s head and body are white while its feathers are an emerald green. Mature adults have rosy cheeks and an orange beak that features a large red knob.

Now that you know what kind of birds you may spot in the Rainforest, it’s time to pack your binoculars and plan your next visit to Discovery Place Science. Not able to visit the Museum just yet? We’re bringing the relaxing sights and sounds of the Rainforest to you with this 15-minute video.

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