If you have an interest in finches, or you want to build a large outdoor enclosure for your parrot, consider a bird aviary. Here are some surefire tips to top aviary construction.
Bird Aviary Construction
Finches can live outdoors at least part of the year in almost any region of the United Stated. Weather extremes (too hot or too cold) need to be avoided. Construction materials for aviaries will vary depending on the weather in a given location. Windy or wet regions will require more protection from those elements. Desert areas need more attention to shade and cooling. The following suggestions work well in any situation and can be adjusted according to your taste, space and budget.
Flooring For Aviaries
Poured cement: Ideal flooring for aviaries. It is vermin-proof and can be scrubbed clean.
Sand: The second best option for aviaries, because it drains well and inhibits bacterial growth.
Untreated wood mulch: Next in line. While it is attractive, it can be a challenge to keep clean. Wood mulch has a tendency to promote mold growth, so check it regularly.
Dirt & Grass: The least suitable option for aviaries. Dirt and/or grass is impossible to clean and can harbor parasites.
Surefire Tip: When using soft flooring, place a layer of steel hardware cloth beneath the substrate prior to construction to prevent predators from digging in.
Framing Ideas For Aviaries
Untreated pine is the least expensive wood for aviaries. It’s easy to work with and takes stain or paint easily.
Using redwood for the door frame eliminates problems with warping and swelling in wet weather. Real redwood is expensive, but the remaining framework can be stained to match the door frame, which creates a high-end look for the finished aviary.
Building a half-sized door minimizes chances for escape, because birds tend to fly up rather than down when you enter the aviary. A half-sized door makes a safety porch unnecessary in many cases, thereby reducing expense.
Attach interior springs on the aviary door so that it will automatically pull itself closed as you enter or leave.
A beaded curtain on the inside of the entry door also helps prevent fly-outs. Finches (and other birds) don’t like the motion of the dangling strings of beads and tend to stay away from them.
Surefire Tip: Padlock the aviary door to help guard against children, as well as animals like raccoons, which can open unsecured latches.
Roofing Tips For Bird Aviaries
Aviaries should be at least half covered with an appropriate roof to create open and sheltered areas. Because of increased concern about diseases, cover the entire top of your aviary to minimize contact with wild birds’ droppings.
A steeply pitched roof discourages cats and other potential predators from walking on them.
Translucent, corrugated plastic panels are an inexpensive roofing material, but always have screen beneath them in case they come loose or break in strong winds.
A layer of shade cloth over the roof can lower the interior temperature by several degrees in hot weather.
Screening Tips For Bird Aviaries
Because finches do not chew, galvanized steel hardware cloth can be used for aviary screening. For parrots, you need stronger materials.
Use 1/4- by 1/4-inch-size grid for the greatest pest control. Rodents, reptiles and even large insects can’t get through screening of this size.
Prior to hanging aviary wire, treat it by spraying it with a 4:1 solution of vinegar and water. Wet the screen while it’s still rolled for easy coverage. This helps remove any leftover chemicals from the manufacturing process, and the acid in the vinegar slightly pocks the surface of the steel. This pocking allows paint to adhere better.
Paint wire black after hanging using a flat finish enamel-based, nontoxic paint. Black wire is nearly invisible to the human eye.
Surefire Tip: Painting is easy when one person is inside the flight and another outside. Each person uses a paint roller and, in unison, they cover both sides of the wire at once.
Furnishing Ideas For Bird Aviaries
- Natural branches from untreated hardwood or fruit trees are ideal for perching.
- Artificial (plastic) leaves can be affixed to the branches to give them a live appearance.
- For a planted aviary, a mixture of real and artificial plants gives a lush look while cutting down on expense and upkeep. Use plastic plants because silk can fray and can entangle birds.
- Wild-bird type feeders can be used for seed, but they must be checked daily to ensure that food is dispensing properly. Offer fresh foods,such as greens and egg food, separately and remove leftovers in the evening.
- Fountains are attractive in aviaries but impossible to disinfect. Shallow, open pans of water make it easier for the birds to drink and bathe.
- Wash water pans daily to avoid waterborne pathogens.
- Misting tubes are inexpensive and can be mounted inside or outside an aviary to provide welcome relief from summer heat. Misters also provide a gentle watering for aviary plants, and they clean droppings off of foliage.
Surefire Tip: Plastic, roll-down window shades can be affixed to the sides of aviaries to provide shelter from rain and wind, as well as shade in summer.