The outdoor portion:
Picture of our outdoor flight
Let us start with the foundations. Concrete foundations that sink at least 80 cm into the ground, having a minimum breadth of 10 cm, are ideal. These are certain to keep out mice and other rodents and will not be affected by frost. For added security, galvanized wire netting of a narrow mesh can be installed over the ground and covered with a layer of sand or, better still, fine gravel about 20 cm deep. Before that is done the earth must be removed and the wire connected to the foundations so that no loopholes develop. Despite all of these measures, one will never be able to keep mice out of the aviaries altogether, but one can effectively keep out rats and moles as well as the weasel that comes in their wake. Rats are more of a danger, to the brood in particular, than is commonly supposed. If one uses ready-made concrete tiles for the foundation, protective wiring becomes imperative. More recently, plastic tiles have also come into use for the foundations. Where these are employed, it is important not to use them as a supportive element in the construction of the aviary. However, if buried deeply enough, they too are durable and secure. Supporting frames for the wire netting can consist of squared timber, angle iron, or tubular metal. Undoubtedly, the cheapest and easiest building material to work with is wood. The lumber used for the framework must be durable, the length of the edges measuring at least 8 cm to withstand the weight of snow in the winter. Vertical props, arranged at maximum intervals of 2 meters, provide necessary support, making it possible to use rolls of wire that are 1 meter broad. These are nailed down on all sides and pulled tight in the middle by means of binding wire so that the wire netting has the correct tension. In every case, the wood should be given a protective coating of paint, which comes in many different types and shades. Avoid all paints containing lead, as parakeets gnaw at the wood. Ingestion of toxic lead compounds will, sooner or later, inevitably result in their death. Harmless synthetic enamels are widely available. For all its advantages, wood has two definite drawbacks. As mentioned, the larger species, in particular, enjoy gnawing at it, weakening not only the transverse strength but also reducing the life span of the frames. Over and above that, these chewed frames are not exactly a delight to the eye. Chewing can be reduced by nailing on strips of sheet metal, but it can never be prevented entirely. Wooden outdoor aviaries rarely withstand the exposure to the weather for longer than ten years. The life span can, however, be prolonged slightly by nailing strips of plastic onto the surface or by inserting an iron girder between the wood and the concrete foundations, which enables the timber to dry out, these precautions should also be taken with the underside. The foundations should be slanted so that the rain water can drain off easily.
If one has the necessary skill, one can even use round timbers. While more difficult to work with, these generally last several years longer than squared timbers. The latter should be planed to become slightly more resistant. The use of angle irons, of course, ensures that one has an aviary for life, provided one is not stingy with paint, removes rust, and applies a coat of enamel paint at least every other year. The latter is equally essential with regard to wood. The iron aviary is more expensive and requires greater manual skill, but it looks better and is more advantageous in every respect. If one drills small holes into the sides of the angle irons, the wire netting can conveniently be attached by means of wire ties. A particularly secure method of fastening the wire mesh is to screw a flat iron on to the inside of the angle, with the netting wedged between the two. I would like to point out once more that no medium or paints that contain lead can be used, not even for the undercoat of the iron parts. If one wants to avoid having to deal with rust, there remains only the alternative of building the framework from galvanized tubular bars, which do not rust, look very good, and are readily obtainable everywhere. While this is the most expensive method, it is also the most rewarding in the long run. What is saved on maintenance over a prolonged period more than makes up for the initial outlay. Different kinds of suitable wire netting are available. It is important that the width of the mesh makes it impossible even for young mice to squeeze through, the thickness of the wire should not be less than 1 mm. Ordinary wire netting is rarely able to withstand the strong beaks of large parakeets. Best suited, therefore, is quadratic wire mesh, spot welded and galvanized, which can be purchased in wire thicknesses of 1 mm and upwards and mesh widths of 10 mm and above. The ideal choice would be a thickness of 1.2 mm, as this would eliminate every element of risk. If the entire outdoor section including the wire netting is painted with a green synthetic enamel, it looks very pleasing and displays up the birds considerably better than unpainted mesh. Plastic coverings on wire and tubular bars should be avoided, as the birds quickly nibble at the plastic and the exposed wire not only rusts but tends to be thinner as well.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.