The Indoor Portion
Many large parakeets inhabit open savannahs with a sparse growth of trees; therefore, they are mostly good fliers used to covering large distances quickly. As opposed to some species of parrots, whose habitat is the tropical rain forest where they merely fly from one tree to another in their search for food, the Australian parakeets are forced to constantly change their location and to bridge long distances, not only to get food but also to find water. Consequently, they are poorly suited for life in the cage and require a spacious outdoor aviary if they are to feel healthy and happy. As we shall see, the keeping of large parakeets in mixed aviaries is only a limited possibility. A description of that type of accommodation is superfluous. The mixed aviary is suitable only for display, not for breeding, and must be spacious enough to enable the individual specimen to find somewhere to hide if necessary. With the exception of collective breeders, each pair demands and defends its own territory. To build a flight room on that scale is too expensive for most hobbyists. Since most large parakeet fanciers will also wish to propagate their birds, there is no real alternative to keeping the latter in pairs and providing each pair with its own aviary. To save space and money, several individual boxes can be arranged in a row, producing a large mixed aviary with separate compartments. The size of the individual compartments depends mainly on what species will be kept. Generally speaking, the length of the outdoor aviary represents the straight-ahead flying space and should not be less than 3 meters. Anyone who wants to keep large species, such as the Australian King Parakeet, and has sufficient space should not hesitate to increase the length to 8 or even 10 meters. For the indoor aviary, a length of 2 meters is sufficient. The width of each individual enclosure is not as critical, since large parakeets usually fly straight ahead. It should not be less than 1 meter, however, and 1.5 meters would be wide enough even for large species. The problem of access into the individual enclosures can be solved in various ways. The simplest solution would be an exterior door leading into the first enclosure, with another door on its opposite wall leading to the next, etc., thus facilitating access from one enclosure to another. The disadvantage of this arrangement is that all the enclosures must be passed through to get into the one at the end. Inevitably, every single pair must be disturbed in the process.
This is a serious drawback, particularly during the breeding season, because some pairs cannot cope with constant disturbances of this nature and may end up deserting their brood. If, for reasons of space, this arrangement is necessary, a safety porch outside the first door is strongly recommended. This can consist of a simple wire box that enables the entrance door to be closed before entering the room in which the parakeets are accommodated. Many a hobbyist has lost a valuable bird because he did not think his birds would be able to get past him and escape through the door! Undoubtedly a better solution is a so-called feeding passage, either at the front, going past all the individual enclosures, or at the back, leading off the closed room. Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. If the feeding passage is at the front, it is imperative to provide additional roofing so that the food is kept dry. Furthermore, the extra layer of wire netting obstructs observation. On the other hand, it is an advantage in the winter, as the birds can easily be moved from the outdoor to the indoor shelter so that the flight windows can be closed for the night. Although the feeding passage in the indoor room is the best solution, it is also the most expensive. The birdhouse needs to be at least 1 meter deeper to make this passage possible. A box which is closed on all sides, including that facing the passage, is recommended. A small, glass-covered spy hole, through which the birds can be observed without being disturbed, can be built into the box. The food can be supplied through a flap from the passage so that disturbances caused by entering the birds environment can largely be avoided. Particularly in the winter, it is very convenient to offer food and water in the sheltered indoor room. To be prepared for all eventualities, one can fit additional connecting doors (made of wire) in the outdoor aviaries so that one has access from there as well. This is particularly advantageous when it comes to cleaning the individual compartments.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.