HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.



THE AVIARY


General Info
If you want to keep several parakeets or a mixed flock, you will need an aviary, i.e., a space large enough to allow the birds to fly short distances. Most large budgie cages are too small for even two pairs of birds, especially with the appearance of baby birds, which in time have to be able to practice flying. A small aviary will accommodate two to three pairs comfortably and be spacious enough for the birds to raise young. These aviaries are available in different models, some of them very decorative (anything from aluminum to wooden trim, and, in some cases with a cabinet for a base). Because of limited space few pet stores carry these aviaries, and you will have to order from a catalog. As a rule, a pet dealer will advise you well and help you choose the model that best suits your particular needs. If your dwelling is sufficiently spacious you can provide your birds with generous living quarters by turning a bright, draft-free corner of a room into an aviary. If you are handy with tools you can accomplish this yourself without much trouble, especially since you can buy prefabricated panels of grating or mesh. Such an aviary need not be very deep (3 to 4 1/2 feet) but should be wide--as wide, in fact, as possible. When you set up an aviary you should follow the same rules that apply to setting up a cage. Parakeets reproduce readily and in an aviary of good size will sit on eggs and raise their young without problems. Many a breeder of parakeets who started out with a few birds in an indoor aviary has ended up keeping the birds in the garden. Limited space usually forces the hobby breeder to take the next step and move the operation outdoors. For building an outdoor aviary I have to refer the reader to specialised literature where exact instructions on the construction of outdoor aviaries of all sizes are given. But there is one point that I do want to mention here. If you plan and build an outdoor aviary, it has to include a shelter that can be heated. Parakeets do survive in temperatures below freezing, but at what cost! If they have to spend a long, cold winter without proper shelter they merely vegetate. They may stay alive, but it can hardly be called living. In their native Australia parakeets experience temperatures comparable to our winters only for a few hours in the night, not for days and weeks on end. A home built aviary that is spacious enough for several pairs of birds can be equipped with climbing and sitting trees, several perches, and many objects to keep the birds occupied. You can buy the wood from any lumber or home supply store and most wire or mesh can be bought at farm supplies and some aviaries along with home supply depots.

If you don't specialise in Budgies, you can easily add them to group aviary. Budgies generally are quite tolerant of other birds. If you furnish enough nesting sites, squabbles over them are rare. Aviaries are actually quite suited for young Budgies. They find abundant light and air. They can move about freely and can develop into health adults. Birds are children of the sun. If you want to keep them in good condition, they must have adequate amounts of sunlight. A good aviary should have a section that can be closed off, so that birds can find shelter at night and protection from cold or inclement weather. Then there should be a roomy outside cage in which birds can fly about at hearts content. Accustom your birds to spending the night in the night shelter, so that they are never surprised by sudden bad weather. A night shelter should have a wooden or cement floor. The outside aviary can have a sand or small gravel covered floor that is turned over now and then. Be sure to have good drainage, either by installing drainage pipes or by elevating the aviary bottom. It doesn't do for the bottom to remain wet or like a mud waddle after every rainstorm. You may want to put plants in the aviary for greater eye appeal. But remember that Budgies do not have much appreciation for natural beauty. You will soon discover that there are practically no plants on earth that they will leave alone. Put a solid branch in the middle to give them full opportunity for acrobatic demonstrations. Budgies weather the usual cold winters very well, provided they are used to the cold and you take care to protect them against rain and wind. You can install a plexiglass wall in the winter. In spring, summer, and fall they only need protection against the rain. If you close off the aviary in winter, be sure to provide for enough fresh air--for example, by installing special ventilation openings. But avoid drafts. More birds die from bad air and drafts than from cold air. To put together good cages and aviaries takes experience and a handy person. Before setting up your first one, you should go visit an experienced breeder for some helpful advice. Pay attention to detail. One handy thing is to have a small door through which you can put seed and drinking dishes in the cages without having to open the main door. Install a windbreak on the windy side, such as a privet hedge. Never put cages or aviaries on the north side. Install some protection against too-bright sunshine. Birds should have shade available if they want it. For winter days, a small ceramic heater is usually adequate to keep the temperature at about 50 degrees F., for the winter months. You can add a thermostat to an electrical outlet where you plug in the heater and just leave the heater on one setting. The thermostat will shut it on and off as needed which is more accurate than the built in control. You can then set a definite temperature instead of waiting to adjust it up or down until you get the temperature you want.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.