The details on this page are to be read and used in conjunction with the
information on the "housing birds" web page
and more options are explored on the "habitat aviary" web page.
If you decide to never have parrots in the
aviary, the design and materials are fairly basic. Timber can be used in
the aviary frame and fittings. If parrots will be housed in the future it
will be necessary to build a parrot proof aviary. Parrot proof aviaries
are usually all steel construction.
The size of the aviary determines the number of
birds that can be safely housed. The bigger the aviary the more birds can be
The traditional outdoor planted aviary is
aesthetically pleasing and great to house mixed species or a
colony. A good size for a mixed finch or Softbill colony aviary is
3 metres x 2 metres x 2.1 metres high. If only one or two pairs are
to be housed, a smaller aviary should suffice.
A typical suburban finch aviary is about 2
metres (6 - 7 feet) long and about 1 - 1.8 metres (3.5 - 6 feet) wide.
Most aviaries are 2.1 metres (7 feet) high.
Many finches can be
housed indoors in cages as small as those commonly used by budgie
and canary breeders. Suspended cages are becoming more popular and
may suit some species of finches and parrots. If the birds are successful at
raising a clutch of young, a second aviary will be required
to house the young birds after they have reached independence. If
the young are left in the same aviary as the parent birds there is a
strong chance the parent birds (especially the cock bird) will be
aggressive to the young birds. Aggression and associated stress can
be fatal to a young bird.
The main difference between a parrot and finch aviary is the wire. Finches
do not need as heavy a gauge wire mesh as parrots. The wire aperture (hole
size) has to be less for the finches. Some small fledglings and baby quail
can get partially through (usually the head) or fully through 13mm (half inch)
The surface coating of wire mesh used to be available only as galvanized.
There are now a wider variety including, painted, powder coated, plastic coated.
In bygone days most wire was the half inch hexagonal "chicken wire". Most aviaries
now use square mesh. The most popular being 12mm x 12mm (half inch
square). The gauge of the wire influences its cost. The heavier the
gauge the more expensive it is.
The tighter the wire is attached, the less "give" the wire will have, especially
in the winter. Tight wire may look better but if a startled or fledgling
bird flies into it the bird may sustain more injuries hitting tight wire than
looser wire mesh.
Ensure the wire netting or mesh is
the best you can buy and is very strong. Remember it has to be up
for a long time and in all weather conditions and in the future you
may want to buy bigger and stronger birds. It also has to keep
un-welcome animals out (cats, dogs, possums, snakes, rats & mice etc
) as well as un-invited people. Within reason, the stronger the
better. Mouse proof wire (about 6.5mm) is more expensive to install
initially but can pay its way, when installed correctly, very
quickly. Keeping vermin out is better than trying to kill or catch
the little pests once they get inside. The wire or mesh can be
painted black (with non-toxic paint) to make it easier to see the
birds from outside the aviary.
Rolls or panels of mesh come in a variety of widths so it is easier to cover a
wall without too much trimming e.g. 900mm plus 1200mm gives the standard aviary
wall height of 2100mm.
Cyclone makes Aviary weldmesh in gauges up to 2.5mm.
One of the most difficult tasks is to
catch a specific bird. The traditional way is to use a bird net.
This can be difficult in a planted aviary.
Another method is to set a bird trap. These devices rely on the bird
entering a "cage" and triggering a trap door behind them. Catching this
way is fairly random and often the bird you want to catch is the last to enter
the trap. Triggering the trap and confining one or more birds in the trap
can be very disturbing to some birds. Some, after being trapped several
times, may refuse to re-enter the trap.
Many keepers allow the trap to stay in the aviary throughout the year and this
cage should be of all wire construction. An all wire cage/trap allows the
birds to see into the cage and when inside, they can see everything outside the
trap. A bird treat can be placed in the cage to tempt as many birds as
possible into the cage. If the trap is left in the aviary with the door
open throughout the year the birds should have no fear of entering the trap when
you need to use it.
The old style manual triggering of the trap with a piece of string. Set
the trap then hide so the birds cannot see or hear you. When the required
finch enters the trap, simply pull the string and the trap door in activated.
This manual system requires time and patience but it minimizes the stress on all
the birds. A set of opera glasses or binoculars may help with the correct
identification of the required bird.
The manual trap is of most benefit when a injured or unwell bird needs catching.
A hen that is suspected of being egg bound needs gentle handling and the manual
trap is probable the safest method.
A clean carry cage/box should be
available at all times. You never know when you will need to move or
remove a bird from a cage or aviary. Get an approved, safe design.
If in doubt get advice from a veterinarian or experienced breeder.
Have a variety of sizes to cater for different size birds. Finches may be
safer in a smaller carry box than those used by parrot breeders. Parrot
carry boxes may have wire mesh that would allow small finches to escape or get
their head stuck in the wire. Have a carry box that is used only for sick
birds. Have a carry box that is only used when purchasing birds and do not
use that box for birds that have gone through the quarantine requirements of
A piece of wooden dowel can be attached to the floor of the carry cage that
mimics a perch for finches.
Top of - finch aviary - Page