Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary – Del Mar, California - Atlas Obscura
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Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary

Del Mar, California

This unique sanctuary invites you to interact with the beautiful birds. 


Dozens of beautiful, colorful parrots await visitors to this exotic bird sanctuary. Flashing their bright plumage, they squawk, chat, and cheerily greet anyone who comes to say hello.

The Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary began as an exotic bird breeding and boarding facility in 1981. Since it was founded by Dr. Robert F. Stonebreaker, it has grown into a unique, hands-on sanctuary where birds and humans can interact on a one-of-a-kind level. The place lets people and parrots connect, while also providing a safe, suitable shelter for birds in need of a home.

Visitors are encouraged to do more than just look at the sanctuary’s beautiful avian residents. Patrons can purchase scoops of fresh-cut raw fruits and vegetables to feed the birds. To most people’s delight, some of the less shy birds will get chatty and possibly dance alongside you. You can even pet and hold some of the animals. Interacting with the birds (under the careful supervision of a sanctuary employee) gives the social creatures a healthy dose of the attention they need.

Make sure to stop by and see Midori, a particularly cheeky resident. She’ll likely imitate cell phone rings and ask if you can let her out of her cage. There is also a large pond filled with wonderfully colorful Koi fish. The pond was originally a habitat for a flock of rescued flamingos, though they have since all been successfully re-homed.

Know Before You Go

Free Flight is located just south of the famous Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds in beautiful Del Mar, California. During the main season, it’s open to the general public seven days a week, 11:00 to 4:00 (except for major holidays), though Wednesday hours are 11:00 to 2:00. Winter hours vary so call before attending. There are no public restrooms available. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Generous scoops of food are $.50 for birds and $.25 for fish.

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