Banner for the birds exhibit at ZSL London Zoo

From the long-legged emu to the tiny hummingbird, there are over 100 species of bird at ZSL London Zoo. In our Victorian tropical bird house Blackburn Pavilion and all over the Zoo.


Bird conservation

ZSL is also working hard in the field to save many bird species and their habitats. Find out more.

A Mt Apo Lorikeet in the Blackburn Pavilion at ZSL London Zoo.

A African white pelican at ZSL London Zoo

Barn owl demonstrating hunting at ZSL London Zoo




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EDGE Birds

New study reveals half of the 100 highest ranked EDGE bird species are receiving little or no conservation attention.

Visit the EDGE Birds Top 100 website to find out more

Take flight to the Blackburn Pavilion, and be transported to our wonderful tropical walk-through! Come nose-to-beak with exotic toucans, soaring starlings, kooky kookaburras, plush partridges and, of course, exquisite Hummingbirds.

The new exhibit allows visitors to enter a world of lush rainforest foliage and waterfalls, and catch flashes of colour from the vast array of beaks, wings, and feathers fluttering on display, with many free flying around their new tropical home.

A Pekin Robin in the Blackburn pavilion at ZSL London Zoo.

An important part of ZSL London Zoo’s heritage, Blackburn Pavilion provides a tranquil tropical home for more than 50 different species of birds. Originally built in 1883 as a Reptile House, this marvellous Victorian building has been restored to provide our flocks with a splendid place to spread their wings.

Follow the boardwalk into the tropical walkthrough where the rainforest environment is recreated. Continue through to the cloud forest where you will be captivated by the iridescent hues, tiny sizes and super-fast wing beats of these tiny birds as they flutter past in free flight. The lofty pavilion provides an abundance of space for the birds to fly through the foliage; you will feel like you are meandering through the heart of the Amazon!

Birds play a vital role that is integral to the environment around us. As well as giving visitors the opportunity to experience and share the birds’ habitat, Blackburn Pavilion provides safe surroundings for species that are in danger of becoming extinct or are already extinct in the wild, including the Socorro Dove, which is bred only in captivity until they can be reintroduced to the wild to ensure the survival of the species.

So put away your binoculars and come see these amazing creatures of flight up close and personal in the Blackburn Pavilion.

Watch the video of the restoration of Blackburn Pavillion:

Amazilia Hummingbird on a branch in the Blackburn Pavilion on ZSL London Zoo.

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Adrian Walls, Head of Birds, in the Blackburn Pavilion at ZSL London Zoo.

This is a bird-keeper’s behind the scenes insight into a truly magnificent wonder of the avian world, the hummingbird. The amazila hummingbird (Amazilia amazila) is one of the new bird species that can be found in the Blackburn Pavilion.

There are well over three hundred species of hummingbirds, all native to the Americas. The vast majority, are found in the tropics, where flowers produce nectar all year-round. This family of birds includes the world’s smallest birds, the world’s fastest wing beats per second and the most amazing ability to fly up, down, sideways, and backwards. Their tiny wings beating in a 360 degrees motion up and down approximately one thousand two hundred times per minute. They spend their days hovering at flowers to sip nectar, feeding almost constantly to supply the sugar needed to maintain their heart racing metabolism. These tiny little birds beat their wings so fast they produce a humming noise when flying giving them the name Hummers. Hummingbirds are truly the world’s most fascinating bird.

The Amazila hummingbird the species held on the bird section, weighing between 4 to 5 grams, can live up to twelve years and start to breed at the early age of eighteen months. Their breeding is complex with both the male and female holding a separate territory. Females will build their nests using small fibres and even spiders web and raise their young alone, only visiting the male’s territory to breed and sometimes feed. This is truly an amazing feat as it normally takes all the females energy and time to feed herself let alone bring up a nest of chicks as well all alone. With a diet of both nectar and insects we have set a very strict feeding regime of nectar and fruit flies. Sterilizing feeders twice daily, making up fresh nectar, as well as having to breed hundreds of fruit flies on a daily basis just to satisfy the nutritional needs of this tiny bird. The nectar is the fuel that helps the humming birds maintain their super fast life style.

Amazilia Hummingbird on a branch in the Blackburn Pavilion on ZSL London Zoo.

Twenty eight species of hummingbirds are ranked as endangered in the wild and one in three of these are ranked as Critically Endangered this means that those classed as endangered have a 50% chance of being extinct within the next ten years. ZSL London zoo bird section is working alongside other EAZA zoos and the Dutch Hummingbird Foundation which aims to help secure the future of Amazila hummingbirds and other humming bird species in captivity for the future. Also in conjunction with working along side these collections we aim to assist in updating and expanding husbandry guidelines, and train ZSL bird keepers in the husbandry and care of humming birds. In learning more about their breeding, ecology and habits we hope that this information may help to save humming birds in the wild.

I hope that once you have visited these jewels of the bird world in the new Blackburn Pavilion you too will feel as passionate and enthused as all the bird keepers are on the bird section and that you enjoy them and keep coming back into this new and exciting redevelopment to wonder at these little birds, our little hummers.

Adrian Walls
Deputy team leader of birds
ZSL London Zoo

To see Adrian in the exhibit, sneak a beak at the video below.

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Book Zoo tickets online for great savings! Select Fast Track tickets to jump the queue.