Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on October 22, 2023.
With 200 species of rare waterfowl and exotic birds, Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Halifax County is a wonderful place to visit in North Carolina. Whether you’re traveling on I-95 (Exit 171), seeking a fun day trip from Raleigh (or from Durham!), or live in the area, this park is the perfect way to spend a day.
Featuring 18 acres of walk-through aviaries and natural wetlands habitats, Sylvan Heights Bird Park offers an interactive and memorable experience for everyone. You can visit throughout the year, but keep an eye out for special events.
We share all the details on that, things to know before you go, and our personal tips for visiting in this guide. You can find all of this (and more) in the following sections:
- About Sylvan Heights Bird Park (Location Info and History)
- Before Your Visit: Things to Know (Opening Hours, Ticket Info, and Prices)
- Tips for Visiting
- Things to Do at Sylvan Heights Bird Park (Guided Tours, Events)
- How to Support Sylvan Heights Bird Park (Membership Perks and Donation Info)
- Things to Do Nearby (Halifax, Roanoke Rapids, and Medoc Mountain State Park)
You can skip ahead to any of the sections mentioned above or simply continue reading about the background of Sylvan Heights Bird Park and how it became one of the coolest things to do in North Carolina.
About Sylvan Heights Bird Park
- Address: 500 Sylvan Heights Park Way, Scotland Neck, NC 27874
Sylvan Bird Park is in the Halifax County town of Scotland Neck. Since opening in 2006, it has been a pillar of the Scotland Neck community, and is the largest North Carolina bird sanctuary, drawing in visitors of all ages each year.
The park’s themed aviaries, natural habitats, and tranquil gardens are divided by continent, featuring birds from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Of course, there are birds found in the United States and North Carolina’s native wildlife, too, including some swans, cranes, and waterfowl.
Among Sylvan Height’s collection of rare and exotic birds, parrots, toucans, flamingoes, swans, and many more reside here.
History of Sylvan Heights Bird Park
Founder Mike Lubbock is nicknamed the “Waterfowl Man,” due to his intensive knowledge of waterfowl. He is considered to be one of the most accomplished waterfowl aviculturists in the world.
Over the years, Lubbock has participated in and led many research projects in just about every corner of the world.
In 1981, Mike and Ali Lubbock moved from England to Sylva in Western North Carolina. There, they began breeding rare and endangered waterfowl.
The Lubbocks moved their collection of birds to Scotland Neck in 1989, then called the Sylvan Heights Avian Breeding Center.
Increased interest in the Avian Breeding Center led to the Lubbocks constructing the bird park. The new space allows the public to visit while learning about and interacting with birds from around the world.
The park opened in 2006 as Sylvan Heights Bird Park and now welcomes more than 55,000 visitors a year. It’s also a popular field trip destination for schools in Halifax County and its surrounding in Eastern and Central North Carolina.
Before You Visit Sylvan Heights Bird Park: Things to Know
Before making the trip to the Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, here are a few things you should know, including open hours, open dates, and ticket info.
Opening Hours and Dates
- Spring and Summer: The park is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Fall and Winter: Open hours are from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
- Sylvan Heights Bird Park NC is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and all Mondays except for Easter Monday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.
Ticket Info and Prices
Tickets can be bought online or when you arrive. Here’s a price breakdown:
- Seniors 62 and Older: $11
- Adults 13 to 61: $12
- Children Ages 3 to 12: $9
- Members and Children Ages 2 and Younger: FREE
Members and kids aged 2 and under receive free admission to Sylvan Heights Bird Park. The park also offers free admission to members of animal parks like the NC Zoo, the Carolina Raptor Center, and the WNC Center in Asheville.
We mention more about these perks in our “Support” section below.
Tips for Visiting Sylvan Heights Bird Park
- At 18 acres, Sylvan Heights is larger than it might seem from the visitor center. There’s a mile-long walkway connecting all the different aviaries and outdoor spaces.
- Based on personal experience, we think you should plan at least two hours to fully get through everything the park has to offer.
- Of course, you can feel free to stay longer and take it all in at a slower pace!
- The park is also entirely outdoors aside from the Visitor Center, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
- Spring and summer are the busiest seasons, but fall and winter bring milder temperatures to Scotland Neck.
- The park stays open during rain but may close for extreme weather, so be sure to check the Sylvan Heights Bird Park Facebook Page before visiting.
- Speaking from experience, we recommend you wear clothes that you’re okay with getting dirty! If you’re going into the free-flight aviary (Landing Zone Exhibit), prepare for birds to hop on your shoulders, arms, and even your hat!
- At the Visitor Center, you can buy birdseed to feed the ducks and flamingoes but be sure to pay attention to any “no feeding” signs at other exhibits.
Things to Do at Sylvan Heights Bird Park
As mentioned before, the park is made up of multiple sections that will take time to walk through. Take your time to explore and take as many photos as you want.
Just be sure to NOT use flash because it irritates these exotic birds!
Most visitors opt for a self-guided exploration of the park, but Sylvan Heights offers guided tours, as well as some other interactive experiences.
Guided tours at Sylvan Heights offer a more detailed experience, with the opportunity to learn more about the park’s history and the birds that reside here.
Guided tours last about 1-1/2 hours and consist of a mile of walking.
A tour costs $50 for a group of 5 and an extra $10 for every additional person. You can request a tour here.
Sponsor an event at Sylvan Heights and get recognition in promotional materials! The park hosts a few fundraising events throughout the year that are usually very popular.
Featured events in 2021 include the park’s Annual Fundraiser and Trick-or-Tweet, both typically held in October. Additional events include scavenger hunts and various functions held in the park’s Toad Hall Pavilion.
Avian Husbandry Program
If you’re a zoo and wildlife management professional, then the Sylvan Heights Avian Husbandry & Management Program is geared towards increasing your knowledge about aviculture.
The two-week program teaches about ways to handle waterfowl and aviculture.
How to Support Sylvan Heights Bird Park
Become a member of the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Society and visit the park for free! There are different levels of membership, and benefits include free admission to Sylvan Heights.
Thanks to reciprocity agreements, you also receive one year of free admission to the NC Zoo in Asheboro and the WNC Center in Asheville. Additional perks include 10 percent off in Sylvan Heights gift shop.
Sylvan Heights also accepts donations, and a $100 donation can make you the sponsor of one of their ducks! There are also volunteering and internship opportunities.
Ready to Experience Sylvan Heights Bird Park?
We’ve fallen in love with Sylvan Heights and can’t wait to return! It truly is a special place and one that absolutely belongs on your NC Bucket List.
If you’re familiar with the park, we’d love to read your thoughts on it. Feel free to comment below or email us.
For anyone who hasn’t visited yet, let us know your first impressions and share your photos in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group! Before you do that, here are some other fun attractions nearby.
Things to Do Nearby
Visiting Sylvan Heights Bird Park is one of the coolest things to do in North Carolina but it’s not the only way to enjoy Halifax County. Here are some other places worth checking out before or after Scotland Neck.
While most NC license plates read “First in Flight,” the town of Halifax is partly responsible for the “First in Freedom” variety. That’s because of the “Halifax Resolves” which was NC’s Declaration of Independence in April 1776.
The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (aka Meck Dec) allegedly followed in May, putting both before July 4.
While we won’t debate whether or not the Meck Dec actually happened, you can visit the site of the Halifax Resolves.
Exhibits and an introductory film await inside the museum, and you can walk around Historic Halifax’s restored buildings. There’s even a sign commemorating the Underground Railroad, which operated in Halifax County.
Read More: Historic Towns in North Carolina
A small city near the great Roanoke River, Roanoke Rapids is packed with history and charm. Probably the best way to explore is the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail, a museum and 8-mile trail that illustrate how important the Roanoke River is to the growth of this city.
Also check out Roanoke Rapids Lake, a great place to swim, fish, and cool off on a hot day.
Medoc Mountain State Park
Spanning 3,900 acres, Medoc Mountain State Park is made up of one 325-foot peak, 10 miles of hiking, and lots of open green space.
Hike any of the 20 trails, including some kid-friendly ones. Other things to do at the State Park include horseback riding, biking, camping, and searching for Big Foot!
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina