How and in what should we keep our birds?©
by Cliff Wright. (Oct 1998)
In the forty odd years that I have kept birds I have had to build four lots of aviaries owing to collapse of the first lot (the next ones allowed me to keep more birds than originally planned) and a whole new lot when I moved house.
The first aviaries that I built were of 2" x 1" timber framework covered with chicken wire and treated with Cuprinol stood on bricks dug into the earth. The birds had a great time chewing the woodwork to pieces and rain settling on the bricks at the base soon rotted the bottoms and after a few years I was always having to spend a lot of time repairing them and making good.
Another bad point that I discovered was that I had to enter each flight through a low door to feed them and there is nothing worse than having to sort out food for them in the pouring rain.
Space did not allow a covered walkway as all we had left of the back garden was a 3' wide path so the next design was all in angle iron (some of it I am still using after thirty years) painted with Hammerite paint and the wire used was Twilweld treated in the same way.
The wire was held on with Self Tapping Screws and a flat washer under each screw to hold the wire against the angle iron. On the front of each flight adjacent to the foot path I fixed a feeding hatch that opened outwards from the right and I hinged internally a piece of wire that was larger than the hole so as to cover it and with the aid of some coat hanger wire fixed to the top of it and to the hatch it swung to when you opened the feeding hatch and stopped the occupants from escaping.
It had no inside flights as space would not allow so the back of the block had corrugated perspex fixed to it as well as the roof for the first two feet (the flights were 6' x 3' x 6' high). These flights were also on soil and at different times. I kept Grass Parakeets, Lories and small Macaws in them and did quite well with breeding results.
When we moved house I had a lot more room to play with and commandeered a large patch measuring 24' x 40' and had built a brick birdroom 24' x 12' x 7' high and 61' of crushed stone laid and rolled once the footings were in over the whole area and then I had paving slabs laid on top of this to form the base. In the longest side I had six 9" x 18" pop holes and six 4' x 2' doorways. This enabled me to build six flights measuring 4' x 24' double wired with 2" spacing between wires. All flights were constructed with angle iron and the wire is held on with pop rivets and again painted with Hammerite paint.
Inside the parrot house I suspended inside flights measuring 2' square by 4' long protruding out from the wall this allowed for 8' of clear space inside to work in, and a 2' gap between each inside flight to allow me to stand in and feed the occupants. After having electricity and water installed in there I thought that I at long last had the ideal setup. WRONG!!!
Like a lot of bird breeders we hope to breed our birds but where do we keep our youngsters once they are taken from their parents? This happened to me so I constructed some inside flights suspended from the back wall measuring 6' long x 3' deep and 3' high allowing me to still keep seed, birds, odds and ends etc., underneath them but it cut down the working space to four feet and the number of times I have caught my shoulders on the angle edges of the inside flights is nobody's business.
After several attempts at vegetable growing I decided that horticulture was not for me so a plot of ground 36' x 12' was prepared with crushed stone base and then concreted over to a depth of six inches and in the centre a 12' x 12' x 8' high building was erected with pop holes and a door allowing for three 4' x 12' flights on one side and two 6' x 12' flights on the other side.
This time after electricity and water were installed I built suspended inside flights 2' high x 2' deep the whole length of the inside wall and divided them into the widths of the outside flights with 2" double wire gaps between each one and put a 6" upright metal sheet along the front to keep seed shucks inside and not over the floor. (Has anybody found a use for 15 cwt. of seed shucks per year?!) This now gives me 8' x 12' working space and all the flights are a lot easier to clean and feed.
Having over the years Grass, Soil, Paving Slabs and Concrete floors to my flights I have found that Concrete is the easiest to keep clean as I pressure hose it and it comes up quite nice, the slabbed fights tend to sprout seeds between each slab and when pressure hosed you get wet when the water catches the edges of each slab. The soil ones that I used to have had to be dug over every year and some lime powder added to freshen it and the grass ones soon got ruined by the occupants.
I know that a lot of birds spend a long time on the ground so to give them something to do I throw some grit and give them some fruit or willow branches to explore, I also give Dandelion leaves and Chickweed (I have forbidden my wife to pull these up as l want them for the birds).
As far as all wire suspended flights are concerned having never used them I cannot comment on them but for Cockatoos and Macaws that spend a lot of time on the floor I do not think it is right that they should be deprived of their natural ways and made to walk on a wire base (this is my opinion). Over the years I have experimented with a lot of different types of nest boxes and maybe I will write an article on these in the future.
AKJ 2018 - a very personal and useful account from one of the founder members of the Parrot Society. We will be pleased to receive further articles and information of interest to add to our Web Site or for publication in our Magazine.
See also - Husbandry and Management of Parrot Species
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