A NEW OUTDOOR AVIARY
by Linda Greeson
We have just completed construction of yet another outdoor aviary, and this is the perfect one for sure. Of course, we have said this before, at least a half dozen times now. Always, after our flock has been in residence for a few months, in spite of all our careful planning, we are forced to acknowledge that there are some things that we should have done differently.
Here in North Florida, where the winters can be colder than in the southern parts, we have found that our original open aviary plan is still practical. This time we enlarged it to 144 feet in length and 18 feet in width. The side walls are now eight feet high with 2x4 uprights every four feet. 1/2 x 1 inch wire encloses the two long sides.
After much research we chose a rigid material called Gavalume for the roof covering. This product consists of layers of galvanized metal and aluminum bonded together for strength and resistance to rust. On our last aviary we used corrugated clear fiberglass material for the roof with disastrous results. In addition to letting in the light as we planned, it also let in all the heat. It also would not hold sufficient weight for repairs when damage by falling tree branches was also letting in a bit too much rain.
This material is supported by manufactured pressure treated trusses every four feet. The lower edges of the long sides are left open, wired in only, to allow the birds access to sunshine and rain as they wish. It is insulated with Tuff-R insulation with ridge vents along its entire length.
air creates a positive flow and prevents trapping of heat under the peak. Partially shaded by big Oaks, the aviary is a comfortable place on the hottest day.
The cages are suspended by metal strips from 2x4's running perpendicular to the rafters. We discontinued supporting cages on racks completely. The racks not only made cleaning much more difficult but were constantly being destroyed by our birds chewing on them right through the wire of their cages. Our experience has proved that for breeding birds, higher is better. The bottoms of their cages now are 53 inches from the floor, giving them the security of looking down on the humans caring for them.
Most of the cages are two feet wide, three feet high, and six feet deep, a size that accommodates most species. We have spaced them two feet apart, not only for the birds' benefit but for added convenience in cleaning and in replacing perches and nest boxes. Food and water dishes are all serviced from a rolling cart down the center isle.
We have worked with many types of flooring in our aviaries, and for this one our decision to go with poured concrete about wrecked the budget. Dirt floors were a muddy experience when hosing cages and created a problem with ants. Wood decking, which at first seemed a wonderful solution,proved a haven for rodents, insects, and mold. We had the center four foot walkway poured level and rough finished. The seven feet on each side of the walkway are graded with a two inch pitch, smooth finished, and sealed. Because the cages are suspended, the graded areas beneath them are completely open and easily cleaned with a hose. Due to the slope of the land, a low retaining wall was necessary along the back of the aviary. There are a series of drains along this side which empty into disposal wells. Along the front, raised flower beds put the cleaning water to good use.
The eighteen foot end walls are enclosed with the solid Galvalume material used on the roof. This is for purposes of both noise containment and protection against the wind in the not so balmy days of winter.
For the additional seclusion which breeding African Grays prefer, we enclosed their end of the aviary by attaching six foot wooden privacy fencing panels to the sides. These are placed one foot from both the top and bottom to allow for air circulation and light.
The birds are grouped according to species and noise volume. African Grays are in the quiet end with the big Macaws and Cockatoos in the noisy end. We are considering putting up divider walls between the species for privacy but we are trying out the "great room" effect first.
Our flock settled in to their new home very quickly.The birds seem happy and healthy. Maintenance seems to have been reduced as far as is possible. Perhaps this time we really have achieved perfection, but only time will tell.
Last Updated: April 26, 2013
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