Habitat aviary
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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 . Habitat aviary
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Note: The details on this page are to be read and used in conjunction with the information on the "housing birds" web page and the "finch aviary" web page.

The habitat aviary has to include all the required features of a typical finch aviary.  The main difference between a "typical finch aviary" and a "habitat aviary" is the size of the aviary, the size and variety of plants and the density of the bird population.

Habitat aviaries are usually large and house only a limited number of birds.  The purpose of a habitat aviary is to display the plants, grasses, shrubs and landscaping as well as the aviary birds.  Pictures of established English and European Estates often show large habitat aviaries.  Habitat aviaries are often ornate structures that are designed to be a focal point of part of the estate.

If a variety of finches, quail and softbills can be selected that do not de-leaf the trees and shrubs, the plants can grow and add an impressive visual impact to the property.  The plants can be trimmed to the required size and shape.

A small waterfall and/or a shallow pond can be added to add more visual effects. However care must be taken when a pond is in an aviary as some young birds (particularly baby quail) may drown.

In a large habitat aviary it is often possible to add a few chairs and a table and enjoy the birds and landscaping close up.

Some finches and softbills require a large aviary and breed successfully only in a large well planted aviary.

One big advantage of a large habitat aviary is the young can move away from the adult birds and minimize the chances of aggression from a parent bird but still be close enough to the parent birds to learn the social skills and parent rearing skills of their species.  Some species of birds will tolerate more than one generation of birds to assist with the current generation of young.  In a large planted aviary this may be possible.  One of the limitations of a standard aviary is the inability to leave the fledgling birds with the parents.  By removing the fully independent young from the parents and placing them in another aviary, the young may loose the opportunity to learn a wide variety of social and survival skills from the parent birds.  In the wild the young birds will often be able to observe at a safe distance the courting and nuptial displays of their species and apply these proven skills when it is their turn to breed.
Young birds in the wild can observe which seeds, grains, berries, fruits, etc the parents eat and use this as a valuable guide to selecting a safe, non-toxic, nutritious diet.  In an aviary they will eat pretty much any thing we place in front of them.

Floor  The best floor for a habitat aviary is an earthen floor.  The earth floor allows a wide variety of plants and grasses to grow.  If the floor is concrete only plants that will grow in pots or containers can be used.
The floor area can be landscaped and include a path made from washed sand or gravel, patch of growing grass, an area for the taller plants and an area to place leaf mulch and other suitable nesting materials.
Floor level can include undulations to mimic natural landscapes.
A concrete floor can be covered with 100mm (4 inches) of soil and sand and allow shallow rooted plants to grow.  Adequate drainage must be incorporated into the soil/sand mix.  A piece of the concrete floor could be removed to allow shrubs or small trees to grow in the ground.  Concrete floors allow for large plant pots or containers to have a safe and stable base.

Landscaping  Logs and large diameter branches can be placed on the floor.  Large rocks can provide private spots to hide behind for ground dwelling birds.

Mounds as steps  If birds nest in a particular spot that is too high to inspect, build a landscaped mound in a suitable spot near the nest.  Equally, a log or rock can be used as a step.  No need to bring a ladder into the aviary or pull the nest down to your level.

Above ground tunnels  Ground dwelling birds such as quail need areas of privacy.  Hollow logs are easy to add to an aviary.  Tunnels or caves can be designed and incorporated into the landscaping.  Artificial structures can be covered with aesthetically pleasing natural materials so they blend into the landscaping.

Perches  Large branches placed vertically or near vertical provide a climbing structure for the birds.  Climbing creepers or climbing plants can be trained to grow over these branches.  All the normal rules for perch placement in finch aviaries applies to habitat aviaries.
One of the most over looked items in an aviary.  In nature, trees and branches come in all shapes and diameters so give the birds in our cages and aviaries the same choice.  Some perches can be horizontal in the roosting/sleeping spot.  Other branches / perches can be placed at other angles to mimic nature.  Varying diameter of perches gives the bird's feet and legs good exercise.  Ensure perches are not placed over water or feed receptacles.  Replace perches as required.  NOTE - Do not put perches in places people are likely to walk into, especially at head or face level !!

Parasites and internal worms The habitat aviary with an earthen floor with growing plants and shrubs will have to be watered and the earth kept moist.  This additional moisture level may help parasites and the parasite eggs to survive longer than in a drier concrete floor aviary.  Appropriate measures will have to be implemented to minimize the increased parasite risks.

Plants and shrubs Choose non-toxic plants and shrubs that will grow well under a partially or fully covered roof.  Many transparent roofing materials now block out up to 100% of UV light.  Some materials lower the light level within the aviary.  Choose shrubs or trees that like to be pruned.  Plants that tolerate regular pruning can be kept well shaped and the foliage dense.  Plants that flower and produce berries or fruiting bodies may provide foods the birds to consume.
Tall plants and bamboos should not be allowed to reach the aviary roof.  Damage to the roof wire or roofing materials by the plants may allow the small birds to escape.
Check the suitability of plants with local experts.  Toxicity of all parts of the plants as well as the growth rates of the taller plants should be known.
Will the roots of the larger plants, trees or shrubs cause any damage to may nearby structures?
Bamboos usually grow well in containers.
Automatic or manually operated dripper watering systems are cheap and reliable.  These systems can be designed so only the plant areas are watered and the rest of the aviary floor remains dry.  They can be designed to fit into the landscaping without being obvious.

Wire mesh as per information on "finch aviary" page.

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