Home Life 15.2.2014 10:00 am

Housing feathered friends

Picture: sxc.hu.

Picture: sxc.hu.

For floor material in your aviary, you can use garden soil, concrete, paving or sand.

Sand floors are relatively easy to clean. Note that birds may spend many hours picking through sand in search of things to eat, so you should ensure that it is frequently cleaned.

Concrete sand is ideal for an aviary floor, but it drains quickly when wet. Soil is closer to natural conditions, but it contains more parasites and bacteria. Soil is also easier for vermin to bu-

rrow through.

Choosing soil will limit the number of birds that can be housed. The more birds, the more droppings, which requires more cleaning. Soil cannot be washed regularly without erosion.

To prevent rodents from burrowing into an aviary, install a sheet of metal or wire-mesh barrier half-a-metre deep under and around the foundation. Ensure there are no gaps. Rats and mice like to explore, and can get through almost any aperture.

Rodent eradication is a must. Rodents carry parasites and bacteria in their urine, which may contaminate food in dishes or on the ground. Never use poisons as the birds may be affected.

Concrete is a perfect barrier against burrowers. It can be hosed down every day and the bird droppings scrubbed off the surface. However, ensure that you dry it properly to prevent residual bacterial and fungal infections, which thrive in damp conditions. This is especially important during winter months.

Birds in outdoor aviaries need shelter from rain, hail, wind and sun. Indoor aviaries must be well ventilated, but should not be draughty, which can cause chills. Wood and sheet metal make good side coverage.

Birds don’t use caves in the wild, so don’t build dark shelters for them. They depend on daylight length for breeding purposes, so dull lighting will prevent courtship. Their health will also decline under such circumstances.

The corrugated fibreglass used in greenhouses is recommended for sidings. It is a virtually clear material that can be shaded if necessary, using branches, shade netting, cloth or other suitable materials. It is also durable and easy to use.

Attach the fibreglass on the outside of the aviary so that items can be hung on the wire mesh inside.

To prevent birds from escaping from an aviary, build a “safety zone”. This is a small room in front of the entrance. Closing the outer door before you enter the aviary will ensure that birds cannot fly out. Even if a bird gets into the safety zone, it can easily be netted and returned to the aviary. This safety measure cannot be over-emphasised. The outside door should open outwards and the inner door inwards.

Feeding stations vary with the requirements of the bird species housed. Mount the dishes on a free-standing metal pole to keep the food vermin-free. Bulk bird feeders that hold seed or pellets are popular because they can contain a fair volume, and only need periodic checking.

It’s a good idea to make sure that you can see the feeding station from outside the aviary.

Water may be provided in a shallow dish on the floor, but it should not be placed below the perches. If you’re good at handiwork, you could consider installing a small pond or even a stream.

Water containers should be kept clean, especially in hot summer months when bacteria will thrive in water. Any pipes leading into the water supply must be rust resistant. Rust is very toxic to birds.

If you use a water dispenser, make sure it can be easily and thoroughly cleaned. Automatic watering devices are available that can provide a constant water supply even if owners are away. But don’t rely on them!

Most aviary owners like to give treats to their birds. A range of products are commercially available. You can also offer your birds something different from their usual fare, such as egg-shell, hard-boiled eggs, fruit or grounded dog pellets. Remember to use separate feeders.

 

 

 

 

 

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