Housing Birds
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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Aviary furniture
Finch aviary
Habitat aviary
Indoor cages
Parrot aviary
Suspended cages


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Note: The details on this page are to be read and used in conjunction with the information on the web pages as shown in the left hand side navigation bar.

The following is what is generally recommended but is subject to change to suit the available space, available resources and local environmental conditions. When in the design stage, thought should be given to allow for possible current or future disabilities (e.g. broken arm or age related restrictions) or if children may be required to help with any of the duties.
One of the most popular suburban outdoor types is the open flight aviary with a solid shelter at the rear of the unit. A walk way is generally attached to and behind the shelter section. Access to the flight is usually from the rear of the aviary.

Housing Requirements:  A basic overview only.  There are no absolute rules and many methods will work equally well.  Refer to disclaimer below.
There is a huge range of shapes, sizes and designs of aviaries and cages in use today. If you have a unit that works for you, that is great and why change.
An aviary should allow the bird/s sufficient space to: 1.. Fly, walk and exercise to maintain good physical and mental health. 2.. Adequate room to perform and nuptial display and area to mate. 3.. Avoid other aggressive birds. 4.. Allow enough to cater for the young birds when they fledge as well as the parent birds.  6..  Privacy retreat, mainly for hens.
Birds can be housed in a variety Sizes and Styles of cages and aviaries: 1.. Cages or cabinets. 2.. Suspended cages. 3.. Small to medium size aviaries. 4.. Habitat aviaries. 5.. Large parrot aviaries.
Some of the factors that influence the housing of birds and their breeding results are 1.. Size and shape of aviary or cage. 2.. Humidity. 3.. Lighting. 4.. Floor. 5.. Vibration within the aviary. 6.. Stocking rates. 7.. Species mix. 8.. Local climate, and many more.

Topics covered below - in order:  These topics are common to most or all cages and aviaries.

The aim of designing a "home" for our birds is to produce a stress free environment. Stress can be one of the main reasons a pair will not successfully settle down to producing young.  Stress is also one of the main causes of ill health or death of captive birds.  All design features in an aviary or cage should minimize the potential stresses in a bird's life.
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Climatic conditions
Aviculturalists in Australia house birds in a wide range of climatic conditions ranging from the tropics, to desert areas, to cold areas subject to snowfalls, high rainfall to areas subject to prolonged droughts.  Some areas can have very hot days but at night the temperature may drop to close to freezing point.  Almost every possible climatic condition can be found in Australia.  Successful breeders can be found in this vast diversity of climatic conditions so if you are able to get access to people or read articles that relate to your particular area, use those facts as a starting point.
During the summer months care must be taken to minimize the effects of excessive heat, sun and drying winds.
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Aviary or cage orientation
In Australia the general orientation of the aviary is to face the front (of the aviary) north or north-east. Providing there are no buildings, large trees, etc in the way, the north or north east orientation should provide good light levels within the flight and allow the birds adequate access to direct sunlight to ensure proper calcium & vitamin D uptake. If an aviary cannot be given a northerly aspect, that does not rule out a successful aviary. An aviary is often built to allow the owners to view the birds from the house or from a preferred viewing point such as a patio. Often this results in an aviary facing south. This only means that more care has to be taken in its design and the husbandry aspects of the birds. To improve the light level in a south facing aviary, the north facing rear wall can be made of an opaque material. Alternatively, all the roof can be made of an opaque material. These options will increase the light levels in the sheltered portion of the aviary. Alternatively a removable panel or "window" can be installed and opened on good weather days.
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Electrical and power requirements
Don't underestimate the electrical power requirements of the aviary or the associated birdrooms, quarantine or sick bird areas.  It is cheaper to allow for a few extra power points when building than to add them after the building has been finished.  Plan power outlets for fridge, freezer, electronic scales, computers, printers, vacuum cleaners, battery rechargers, power tools etc.  Refer to "birdroom" and "equipment" web pages.
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The first question that should be asked is fairly simple
Will the aviary, either now or in the future, house any parrots?  If the answer is yes, it will be better to plan, budget for, and build an aviary suitable for the attack of parrot beaks.  A parrot aviary will usually require a galvanized steel frame and strong wire mesh.
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Finch requirements versus parrot
Finch requirements are very different to those of parrots.
1.  No finches will destroy a timber framed aviary but a parrot may turn it into splinters within days. Metal frames are required for parrots.
2.  Parrots require heavy duty wire mesh or weld mesh to prevent them chewing holes in the wire. Some large parrots need heavy duty weld mesh or chain mesh.
3.  Small finches require a smaller diameter mesh hole size to prevent escapes of the adult and juvenile finches. Some small finches can get through the standard wire cage fronts used on budgie or canary cages.
4.  Most finches are fairly non-destructive of shrubs, trees and plants. Most parrots quickly destroy any vegetation their beak can reach.
5.  Vegetation and branches for most parrots is just beak exercise (that is good therapy for parrots and should be provided on a regular basis if possible).

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There are a lot of building materials now available through the large hardware outlets that were usually only available through trade outlets.  The aviary frame can be made from timber, plastics, metals or a combination of them.
The metals can be steel or aluminium.  The steel can be painted, galvanized, square, angle, channel or round.
The metals can be joined by welding, commercial metal joiners, plastic joiners, self taping metal screws, rivets, bolts and clips.
Kits can be ordered and arrive in a "flat pack".  Most kits come in panels and are joined together.  There are many suppliers that will custom build these kits to your specifications.  Delivery and the assembly of these kits by the supplier can be negotiated.
One problem with the panels is the channel on the lower edge.  Seeds and other materials, including water, can accumulate in the channel.  A vacuum cleaner is often the best way of removing material from the channel.  Water can enter the aviary via these channels.
The most common wall material used are sheet metal panels.  Colourbond can be used to enhance the aesthetics of the aviary.
Galvanized or painted wire mesh or weld mesh is required under the panels on the external walls.  This minimizes the risk of escapes if the panels are damaged.  The inner wire mesh layer may deter the entry of unwanted visitors.
"Tec screws" or self tapping screws that have a raised square or hex head are one of the security failings of modern aviaries.  Many aviaries have been robbed by people with battery operated drills.  The back metal sheets are the usual entry point.  The screws are easily and quietly removed.  Additional non-removable fixing items should be included at regular intervals,  e.g. pop rivets or one-way screws.
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Suspended cages
Suspended cages are becoming more widely used and can be researched to determine if this is a valid choice for your site. Lorikeet and Lory suspended cage size could be 1200mm long, 900mmwide and 1200mm high. Cage floor about 1000mm above the room floor. Many larger parrots can be housed in suspended cages. Size could be 2400mm or more long, 1200mm wide and 1200mm high. Some finches can be housed and bred in a suspended cage.  Refer to "Suspended Cages" web page as shown in the left navigation bar.

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Indoor room
Another option is to have an indoor room with "cabinet" style breeding cages. Indoor set-ups allow a greater degree of control over the environmental factors and allows maximum control over pair selection for breeding programs. Indoor bird rooms are good for people who work non standard hours or have commitments that restrict them to non standard hours. An indoor set up allows the person to modify the hours the birds are asleep or awake. Lights can be put on timers that gradually increase in intensity of light so they can be fed earlier than outside birds, or equally kept awake a bit longer to allow the birds to be cared for later than those outside.
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Aviary size
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.  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.
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Aviary security
Aviary security has to be considered prior to the construction stage of the aviary. Birds can have a high monetary value and stolen aviary birds are rarely recovered. Pet birds usually have a strong emotional attachment value and almost impossible to replace. The harder it is to break into an aviary, the less likely the thieves will hang around. Incorporate security devices in the aviary that will not make the maintenance tedious or disruptive to the enjoyment of the birds. As with houses, it is virtually impossible to totally prevent a theft by a determined thief. A Micro-chip in the larger birds is an option to confirm disputed ownership of recovered birds.
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Safety door and safety walkways
The safety door, safety flight area, or safety walkways are areas that minimize the potential escape of birds. The inclusion of a safety door combine the use of two doors. Enter the first door and close it behind yourself then open the interior door moving inside with the food or other items and then close that door as well. When leaving, the reverse is done with one additional check.  After closing the interior door make sure NO birds, especially ground birds such as quail, are NOT in the safety area with you PRIOR to opening the outer door. If used correctly, this procedure minimizes the loss of birds through the main door/s. If space allows, the inclusion of a safety door or safety flight area should be built into all aviaries.  The inclusion of a safety flights or safety walkways also minimizes the loss of birds through the main door/s.  The safety area can be as big or small as space allows.  In small aviaries the area may only be just big enough to fit one person plus the room needed to carry the birds food or a carry box.  In larger aviaries one may make this area large enough to allow the safe movement of a food trolley or wheelbarrow.  The older aviaries had the walkway at the front of the flights but the recent trend is to put the walkway to the rear of the flights.  The old style walkway was generally unroofed and subject to unfavourable weather conditions such as rain and strong winds.  The change to having the walkway behind the flights, the enclosed area allows the day to day activities and the moving of birds to be done in all weather conditions. The safety walkways at the rear of the aviaries that are made of solid material such as corrugated steel or solid opaque material will also double as storage areas and if birds do escape into this area they tend to land quickly.  In the wired front walkways the escaped bird/s tend to fly madly often hitting the wire at break-neck speed with fatal results or a severe injury.
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Spring loaded doors
May help minimize escapes. May hinder moving larger items into or out of the aviary.
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Steel and timber frame
If the aviary is only used for finches, a timber frame is acceptable.  If there is a chance that parrots will, now or in the future, be housed in the aviary then a steel frame would be preferable.  As parrots like to chew on timber, it is advisable to build the frame and doors out of steel.  Steel frames are easier to clean and generally provide less places for mites and other insects to hide.
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Wire netting or 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.
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) wire mesh.
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 "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.
Cyclone makes Aviary weldmesh in gauges up to 2.5mm.
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Shelter section
The shelter section usually has a solid back wall and side walls and a solid roof which, if conditions require, can be insulated. This is often the area where nests or nest boxes are placed or built and the various feeds are located.
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A walk way is generally attached to and behind the shelter section.  Access to the flight is from the rear of the shelter.  The walk way should have a concrete floor and a fully covered roof and solid walls. This will allow all feeding and husbandry duties to be carried out even in the most adverse conditions.  Older style aviaries usually have the walk way in the front of the aviaries.
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Aviary and Walkway Ventilation
Modern outdoor finch aviaries are becoming more enclosed and hot spots can occur especially at the back of the aviary in summer.  If you live in an area that can experience very hot summer days or heat wave conditions a vibration free, quiet extractor fan, connected to a thermostat, and shielded by a suitable stainless steel mesh guard,  installed in the back wall and ducted to the outside of the aviary complex may be worth considering.  When on "manual override", the extractor fan can provide a gentle flow of air from the aviary.  It can remove airborne dust while cleaning the flight.
As most walkways are fully enclosed with solid walls, the same concept can be applied to the walkway behind the flights.  Install a vibration free, quiet extractor fan/s connected to a thermostat and shielded by a suitable stainless steel mesh guard, installed to a suitable exterior wall of the walk way.  This will remove excess heat especially in summer and provide a much better work environment and minimize built up heat entering an already hot aviary flight.  When on "manual override", the extractor fan/s can also quickly remove dust and excess humidity if required.
The same concept can apply in winter on cold damp mornings.  If the interior of the aviary is cold and damp and outside is drier and warmer why not just turn the extractor fan/s on and suck out the colder damper air.
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Corrugated clear or opaque materials are strong, durable and popular. This material goes over the wire and does not replace the wire.
The rear third of the roof is often corrugated steel.  The corrugated steel can provide a darkened part that some species prefer when they are nesting.  The shaded/darkened area can give the birds the feeling of privacy.  The remainder of the roof can be transparent or opaque.  The modern roofing materials are strong and light and easily installed.  With that said, it is possible to have one third of the roof open during the warmer months and then replace the material for the winter months.
Some "roof coverage" options are:
1.. Rear portion of the roof area covered.  One third of the roof or a minimum of about1500mm wide, the shelter section.
2.. Two thirds covered leaving the front part open to allow the birds access to direct sunlight and rain showers.
3.. Fully roofed aviary.
4.. Front and rear covered with a gap in the middle.  Birds are protected at both ends of the aviary but the middle section allows rain and sun to enter the aviary.
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Area of roof covered:  Two basic options.
1. The whole roof could be covered - a fully covered roof generally gives best results for Australian and foreign finches.
2. Have the shelter fully covered and half of the rest of the roof covered.
In the southern states most outdoor finch aviaries have a fully covered roof. As a general statement - the bigger the area of roof covered, the less chances of parasites entering the aviary from wild birds.  A greater roof coverage also minimizes the risk of the aviary birds being harassed by predatory wild birds such as hawks. A fully roofed aviary will minimize the chances of birds remaining in an uncovered part of the aviary during storms and being injured by hail stones or intense rain storms. Birds that stay in unroofed areas of the aviary can be saturated and remain wet and cold for a long period of time. This can be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of young or breeding birds. The full coverage of the roof can minimize the risk of the "wind chill factor" further cooling an already wet bird. A fully covered roof minimizes the risk of rain contaminating the birds foods.
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Winter wind and rain protection
In the southern states, many aviaries have removable panels which can be placed on the front wall of the aviary to fully or partially exclude the cold winds and heavy rains.  Clear or opaque corrugated roofing material is often the material of choice.  Clear flat acrylic sheet (or similar products) will allow the birds to be seen easily while providing protection.
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Concrete floor with a sand cover, although expensive initially, is often the best option, and easier to keep clean. Soil floors are cheap initially but require a lot of maintenance to keep clean, dry and free from parasites or parasite eggs.  Planted aviaries generally require a soil floor.  The floor is often an easy entry point for vermin such as snakes, rats and mice. Appropriate measures have to be built into the floor and wall foundations to ensure no pests can enter.  Although rare, a parrot may dig into a soil floor and escape or end up in another flight.
Refer to "habitat aviary" for information on planted aviary floors.
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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 !!
SUMMER TIME: the perches can be lowered in the summer in the covered part of the aviary so the birds do not get effected by heat radiating from the roof.  When designing the perch attachments, allow for alternative height levels.
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Nests attached to an external wall or a metal wall
Nests attached to an external wall or a metal wall in the cooler months may be colder than nests further away from the cold surface.  External aviary walls and metal walls can get very cold very fast at night and drain valuable heat from a nest.  Young finches or parrots can die if the nest gets cold and stays cold especially at night.  Moving a nest about 100 - 150 mm (4 - 6 inches) away from a potentially cold surface will minimize this kind of heat loss.  To show how cold a wall can make a nest, hang a maximum / minimum recording thermometer on the metal wall for a few nights then for the next few nights hang it about 100 - 150 mm away from the wall then compare the results.  The loss or nest heat is less critical in the summer months but the heat drain caused in the cooler months may delay the hatching and development of the young or in a worst case the death of one or all of that clutch.
In the winter months the "wind chill factor" may further reduce the metal temperature and aggravate the heat loss even further.
The same heat loss principle can apply to the parrot family of birds.
In the hot summer months the heat transfer along metal aviary or cage frames or roof may influence the temperature of a nest.  Heat can move along metals exposed to direct sun and, if a nest is placed in contact with the metal frame or roof, the nest temperature may increase to a temperature that may compromise the health or survival of the adults, young or eggs.
If it is not practical to move the nest or log away from a potentially hot or cold wall, a piece of solid "parrot proof" insulation can be placed between the nest or log and the metal surface to minimize the potential heat loss or heat gain.
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Lighting levels and qualities
For birds housed outdoors in a north facing aspect with a clear or opaque roof material should receive adequate levels of light into the aviary or cage. For convenience or to control some environmental conditions, indoor controlled environment rooms are built. The birds are at the mercy of the owner instead of the natural weather conditions. Indoor birdrooms give the opportunity to modify the lighting duration, lighting colour and intensity. It is easy to change or control the duration and intensity of indoor rooms but is much harder to provide the optimal colour or wave length of light.
Herpetologists (reptile breeders - e.g. lizards, snakes, frogs) have a long history of using artificial lighting for their reptiles. Most reptile breeders keep the animals indoors in cages and have developed good reliable methods, practises and equipment to cater for the needs of the varying species of reptiles and amphibians. The hydroponics industry has also developed a wide range of items that can be useful to the aviculturalist. An electrical will be necessary to oversee and install most of the wiring etc.
It has taken the bird people a while to catch up but all the necessary equipment is now available. Many companies supply high quality lights  that provide a "full spectrum" light. One recently advertised brand is "Arcadia". The advertising leaflet shows pictures of the globes and the globe holders. Make local enquiries as to availability and suitability of these items.
The effects of providing the incorrect light levels and incorrect lighting spectrums can be found in good quality avian veterinary books and magazines.
Care must be exercised with the use of full spectrum lights in an enclosed room. These lights give off a quantity of UV light. Prolonged exposure to these lights may be detrimental to some people. Laboratory "Laminar flow cabinets" have a clear plastic or glass that does not allow the transmission of UV light. Plastics or similar clear materials can be placed on the front of the cage to minimize the dispersal of the UV in the bird room. These UV producing lights may degrade plastics and make the plastics and similar items brittle and subject to early breakage.
Reference:  A/A Vol 57 No. 11 Nov 2003 Page 252-255 (Light and its effects on birds by Dr. S. Gelis)
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Bird Toys or play gyms
Bird toys and bird play gyms can minimize boredom and give a variety of exercise activities.  A wide range of bird toys and "bird gyms" can be seen at good retail bird dealers and pet shops.  Bird toys and "bird gyms" can be placed in an outdoor aviary not just indoor cages. Most parrots including Conures, macaws & lorikeets love to play with toys and it gives them a reason to be active and entertain themselves. Along with the physical activity, it also gives them some mental exercise and mental stimulation i.e. environmental enrichment.  Refer to "Aviary furniture" web page as shown in the left hand navigation bar.
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Wire mesh floor in cages - a "suspended cage" wire floor
Many cages now come with a "suspended cage" wire floor. This makes the cleaning of cages very easy and removes the requirement of having to enter the cage. The wire floor minimizes the birds contact with stale foods and the droppings. A tray is under the "wire floor" and this is removed, cleaned and replaced. This system minimizes the chances of a bird escaping while the cage is being cleaned. The wire floor can be cleaned as required. A sheet of newspaper in the tray makes cleaning quick and easy.  More information available on the "suspended cages" web page as shown in the left hand navigation bar.
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Vibration in nests and perches - fight and flight reflex - nervous birds such as Gang Gangs - details to follow.
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Birds need a defined "bed time"
In the wild most birds go to roost at dusk and wake up at dawn. The timing of dusk and dawn changes by only a few minutes each day and the slow change is in accordance with the seasons. Birds are creatures of habit and like a predictable sleep time duration.
In a captive situation the keeper determines the sleep time and duration of the birds.
Place an aviary in a position that has minimal intrusion from lights and loud sounds especially at night.  Birds are no different than people or other animals and prefer a regular schedule for sleep.  Interruptions from cats, dogs, rodents, predatory birds etc can be detrimental to the optimal health of birds and may cause the night-time abandonment of a nest.
A good night sleep for the bird/s can help minimize the other stresses in a bird's daily life.
This applies equally to pet or companion birds.
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Ease of cleaning
All equipment, fittings and fixtures that will be subject to contamination by the birds should be chosen with the view of how easily the items can be cleaned. It is not a good purchase if you have to spend countless hours cleaning intricate or fragile items. If an item is easy to clean, the item is likely to be cleaned on a regular basis. Regularly cleaned items can be inspected for wear, corrosion, or damage at the same time.
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Inspection holes in nest boxes
My first timber nest boxes had the inspection door or hole about 100 - 150 mm (4 - 6 inches) above the level of the nest material. This caused a lot of problems as soon as the door was opened to inspect the contents of the box. A human hand or face would appear between the sitting bird and its only escape exit near the top of the nest box. Panic would often grip the sitting bird and in its defence mode it would start flapping its wings and generally thrashing around in the nest. A potential deadly action scene for eggs and baby birds.

When the door opening was lowered to slightly above the nest material (about 20 - 25mm or almost 1 inch) the birds reacted differently. If the door was opened and the bird was at the same height as the opening, it was able to leave the nest without going past the human onlooker. The bird has more confidence to quietly leave and not panic. This is not always the case as some birds will refuse to leave no matter how polite and caring the owner is. The bird will just look sideways at you and the small height difference between the top of the nest material and the lowset part of the opening should prevent any eggs or young birds accidentally falling out when the door is opened.
Care should always be exercised whenever the nest box inspection door is opened.
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Transporting Birds
Two types of boxes can be made or purchased. One for regular personal transporting of birds and the other for transporting birds by couriers and transport companies. The first, a personal carry box that stays in your care, will require a door that can be opened and closed easily but securely. The transporting of birds that leave your care will require a "box" that is difficult to open in-transit and hence minimize the loss of birds. A good reference to read is the Syd Smith article in the ABK publication Vol. 13 - issue 6 Pages 326 - 332.
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Socializing parrots - Value of "Pets" v's Breeder Birds
Many articles have been written on the benefits and drawbacks of hand rearing of birds. Does the handrearing of mainly parrots change the behaviours of the birds when they become adults and want to breed? A bird that has been hand-raised for sale as a pet or companion bird will not need to learn the social skills to maintain a successful and productive life with others of its species. The pet bird only has to form a good relationship with the new owner and family. As long as the bird thinks it is one of its new human family it will be thought of as a good bird.

If a hand raised bird is isolated from the day to day learning of a parent or both parent birds, it may not learn the normal social skills that their species has refined over the centuries. Most social and developmental skills and attributes were developed to benefit the flock and maximize the chances of sufficient birds reaching maturity and breeding enough birds to maintain the flock numbers. Even the birds that have reached maturity but do not produce young have a benefit to the flock. The ones that have no young may be used to protect or feed the fledglings of other more successful pairs. The birds not in a log breeding will often raise an alarm screech that will warn a bird deep within a tree trunk of impending danger. Some species such as the wrens, magpies and kookaburras will allow several generations as well as others within their group to assist with the care and rearing of fledglings. Each level of interaction should allow the young birds to learn what is expected of them from their peers and expected to then pass those traits on to their young.
In the wild, many young birds will be close enough to adult birds at breeding time to observe the species specific courting and mating "rules" and incorporate those behaviours into their own.
The removal of birds from the nest for hand rearing breaks the cycle of handing down the species specific social and developmental skills and knowledge. A bird hand reared with out the guidance of its own species may not realise there are boundaries of tolerance and become very dominant and self assured. After-all when it is on its own being hand raised, every time it squawks it usually bets everything it wants. Food and some one turning up to entertain it. Do we ever deny a hand raised bird any of its demands or modify any of its self developed social actions?
When the hand reared bird grows up and has it chance to develop a breeding pair bond, will it instinctively know how to treat the potential new partner? Some hand reared birds tend to treat others aggressively when they become adults. Some fit in very well. Years ago it was common practice to hand rear birds in small groups in a nest like container. Now it is usual practice to place each young in a container of its own. No body contact with and other young. No social contact with any other birds. Many hand reared birds can become so lazy they do not even have to learn to swallow a mouthful of food. Just open the beak and someone will squirts a syringe of food directly into its crop!
With that said, it can be of interest to follow the social and developmental skills of hand reared birds and compare it with those birds that are parent reared birds. If they loose the instinctive natural traits, what will replace these traits and how do we learn to identify the new traits and how do we teach the other aviculturalists / bird keepers to recognise the new traits?
All hand reared birds have the potential to grow up as a "dominant" bird, where as in a parent reared nest one young bird will assume a dominant position and the others will generally accept a less assertive role within the group. How does the aviary situation adapt to lots of dominant personalities in the same place at the same time?
Is the dominance aggression counter productive and interfere with the true breeding potential of their species?
Are the potentially new behaviour traits beneficial to the survival of that particular species?
Can we modify a bad behaviour, such as dominance and excessive aggression in adult hand reared birds?
If we can modify bad adult behaviour in an aviary environment - how does one do that?
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Grasses, creepers and shrubs- How to support clumps of grasses and plants
Tall grasses, including bamboo
, can make an ideal nest site for birds such as finches and softbills. One problem is how to make the grasses in an aviary situation stay as a stable structure. One solution is to place a wire or plastic mesh around the tall grass. Most hardware outlets now stock a wide range of plastic, powder coated, and galvanised metal meshes. If a mesh is chosen with openings of about 100 - 150mm (4 - 6 inches), the material can be made into a round, oval or square "tube" and placed around the grass/s. The plants will grow to fill the structure. The support the wire gives will allow the birds to build a stable nest structure and raise a clutch. The mesh support will minimize the collapse of the grasses from the effects of wind, rain, or other birds.

The tube can made to what ever height you deem suitable for a particular species of bird. Short mesh tube for low nesting birds and tall tube for higher nesters.
If the structure gets a bit top heavy or looks like it will bend or topple over, just hammer in a metal "star post" or solid wooden stake beside the mesh structure and tie the two together. Check prior to disturbing the plant material for breeding or nesting birds. 
Creepers or climbing plants can be trained in these tubes and grown to what ever height you deem necessary. The creepers and climbers may have to be trimmed to maintain the required shape or to maintain optimal foliage density. Trimming with shears or hedge clippers can be dangerous to small birds if you are not careful. The use of secateurs is usually slower but minimizes the risk of injuries or decapitation of birds.
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Humidity levels
In the wild a nest is subject to constant air movement from the wind. In an aviary we have solid side walls, rear wall, and a fully covered roof. The modern aviary has almost totally removed the air movement from the rear portion of the aviary. The nests are often placed in a spot at the back of the aviary with little or no air movement. The minimal air flow can reduce the removal of humid air this part of the aviary. One of the results of slow or no air movement is the build up of moisture within the breeding or roosting nest. Nests that fail to dry out can be detrimental to the development of the eggs, young or parent bird.
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Temperature levels
The same principle as outlined in the "humidity levels" paragraph above applies to the aspect of aviary and nest temperatures. In the summer, heat builds up under the rear roofed section, the lack of air flow can be detrimental to the nesting or roosting birds. Equally in winter, the overnight cold will reduce the aviary temperature and that of the nest. The lack of air movement may delay the warming of the rear of the aviary and nest. The lack of warmth may reduce the growth rate of the young, delay the development of the egg or make the parent bird lethargic.
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Nests to be under the covered section of the aviary
Birds that make a poor nest or birds from dry environments may benefit from having a fully covered roof. In the tropics a bird may make a nest that will be wet from rains but have it dry out fairly quickly from the tropical heat and wind. The same nest made by the same species, made in a cooler environment and subject to the same amount of rain, in an aviary, may not dry out, leaving the hen, the eggs, or young in a wet nest for an unacceptably long time. A nest that does not dry out quickly may result in the loss or abandonment of that of that clutch. A wet nest that does not fully dry out may become mouldy or breed other harmful pathogens and become a health risk to other birds in the aviary. This is especially applicable to those birds that have poor hygiene habits and have messy droppings encrusted nests.
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Specific References

  • Australian Aviculture

  • A/A Vol 60 No. 7 Jul 2006 Page 143 (Sick house syndrome)
  • A/A Vol 60 No. 6 Jun 2006 Page 134 (Gum trees in your aviary).
  • A/A Vol 60 No. 4 Apr 2006 Page 69-71 (Advantages & disadvantages of Bird keeping in hot climates)
  • A/A Vol 59 No. 11 Nov 2005 Page 246-247 (Maintain those plants).
  • A/A Vol 59 No. 9 Sept 2005 Page 189 - 190 (Aviary security).
  • A/A Vol 58 No. 7 Jul 2004 Page 154-155 (Stress perches and stress nestboxes - M. Fidler)****
  • A/A Vol 33 No. 4 Apr 1979 Page 58-60
  • A/A Vol 14 No 3 Mar 1960 Page 42-46.
  • A/A Vol 13 No 12 Dec 1959 Page 174-175.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 746-748 (Some facts about avian influenza-Dr. Bob Doneley BVSc)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 741-745 (The social lives of wild parrots)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 733-737 (Enrichment for juvenile parrots)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 2005 Page 665-668 (Beaks for every purpose - R. Low)
  • ABK Vol 18 Issue 9. Jun-Jul 2005 Page 538-543 (Environmental enrichment).
  • ABK Vol 17 Issue 2. Apr-May 2004 Page 74-76 (Full spectrum lighting)
  • ABK Vol 17 Issue 1. Feb-Mar 2004 Page 22-27 (Mixing species - M. Pollard).
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2004 Page 712-714 ( Cage environments - Dr. B. Doneley).
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 9. Jun-Jul 2003 Page 518-520.
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 9. Jun-Jul 2003 Page 490-494.
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 9. Jun-Jul 2003 Page 521 (Arcadia Bird Lamps).
  • ABK Vol 14 Issue 9. Jun-Jul 2001 Page 487-491 (Selecting a pet bird).
  • ABK Vol 14 Issue 8. Apr-May 2001 Page 458-459 (Eco-mesh at Dreamworld).
  • ABK Vol 13 Issue 6. (R. Low)

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