HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.



THE AVIARY


General Remarks
Many beginners, to their regret, build one or two aviaries without thought and planning for the future. It is much better to plan well in advance, to measure the available space and to use it with a view to expansion at a later date if necessary. Then, should you wish to increase the number of your aviaries, you can do so easily. When building aviaries you should bear the following three points in mind:

  1. The aviary must be suitable for the type(s) of birds you wish to keep.
  2. The aviary must be easy to service.
  3. The aviary must complement your house and garden.
These points suggest that most Australian parakeets are kept in outside aviaries. They may be kept in indoor enclosures, but most fanciers do not have the room for large flights, and the number of species one can keep comfortably in cages is minimal. Moreover, there is no substitute for the benefit of natural sunlight and rain to the birds and their plumage. In preparing the overall plan, there are a number of points you must consider. Firstly, the sitting of the aviary is of prime importance; which compass direction should the front face? Many fanciers have little choice in the matter and are limited to the attributes of the available space; however, it is wise to bear the following in mind (these points pertain to the Northern Hemisphere):
  1. To the north: little sunlight, much cold wind and rain.
  2. To the east: mornings---good sunlight; in the afternoons and evenings--little or no sun; in the summer--dry winds; in the winter--raw, cold winds, no driving rain.
  3. To the south: much sunlight all day, driving winds and rains variable.
  4. To the west: no morning sun, afternoon and evening--adequate sun, much wind, driving rain, especially in the chilly and damp fall.
When planting and building, take these points into consideration. (The extent to which you can actually do so may depend on whether you live in the middle of a village or town, or out in the open country.) If the open part of your aviary faces south, you should consider planting some deciduous trees and shrubs to provide shade in the summer but to let through the winter sun. If you intend to keep red-eyed mutations, which are sensitive to strong sunlight, you certainly should consider planting to provide as much shade as possible from the stark summer sun. Never plant your trees or shrubs so close to the aviary that their twigs or branches can damage the mesh. Also, branches that hang over the aviary provide various enemies of the birds (cats, birds of prey, and so on) a better chance of approaching their "prey"; and, although they may not be able to catch them, they can spread alarm and stress among your birds. Regular pruning is therefore necessary to Prevent mishaps. Take into consideration that a south facing aviary also has its disadvantages: hot summers will mean that the temperature in the night shelter can become too high. Provision of adequate ventilation is therefore priority (but watch out for drafts !). Sliding panels, high in the walls and protected on the inside with wire mesh, are ideal. As it is important to keep an aviary as draft and damp-proof as possible, one with a north facing aspect is the least suitable. Many kinds of birds, for example splendid parakeets, are susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Damp aviary floors have the disadvantage of nurturing bacteria and worm eggs; Neophema species are susceptible to lung infections if kept in such conditions. Personally, I find an east facing aviary to be good. The birds get early morning sun, and although this may disappear in the afternoon, the warmth will stay for some time. The harsh westerly winds will pose no problems here, especially in the fall and winter. One disadvantage is the possibility of cold easterly winds in the winter; these are not so frequent and should they occur, I shut my birds up in their night shelters for protection.

A west facing aviary poses similar factors to the east facing aviary, but in reverse. One can protect the birds by covering a large part of the roof of the outdoor flight. In addition to the climatic conditions, a number of other factors must be taken into consideration. A good view of the aviary from the house has advantages but the aviary must be protected from noise (as at a party, for example), light (automobile lights for example), and so on; although birds soon can become accustomed to regular disturbances. All in all the prospective fancier must come to terms with his own situation, in which finances also can be of utmost importance. Before you commence building, it is highly recommended that you visit as many other fanciers as possible. See how they have built and do not hesitate to ask for information and advice on anything you are not sure about. And don't forget the all important question: "What would you change if you had the chance to rebuild your aviaries?" One doesn't learn just from positive experiences but also from negative ones! The general picture you will get from most other fanciers is that the aviaries are built to a certain standard pattern: 3 feet(l m) wide flights in adjacent rows, not necessarily with separate entrances to night shelter and flight. Most trees and shrubs are planted outside the aviaries as most parakeets will destroy those planted inside. Do not accept the opinion that smaller parakeet species necessarily can make do with smaller aviaries. The Neophema species, for example, travel huge distances in the wild and thus do better in as large a flight as possible. Also, better breeder results are obtained in aviaries rather than cages. Additionally, Neophema species are very susceptible to fat-liver disease and gout if they receive too little exercise - a situation that can be avoided with a large flight.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.