If you are a bird lover and love to pet a lot of feathered friends, you might want to consider keeping them in an aviary.
An aviary is a large cage or enclosure where your birds get a larger room to live and fly. Also known as flight cages, aviaries often include plants in them, thereby providing natural habitat to the birds residing inside them.
Once you know what an aviary is, you might wonder ‘how to set up an aviary?’ or ‘what does it cost to maintain an aviary?’
An aviary helps your birds stay happy, cozy, and safe in their own small environment. Thus, the quality of your birds’ lives improves to a great extent when they reside in an aviary.
Being much larger than normal birdcages, aviaries can be placed either indoors or outdoors.
Indoor V/S Outdoor Aviary
There are several pros and cons of both an indoor as well as an outdoor aviary.
The indoor aviary is cheaper and doesn’t need special attention to the material as it is not much affected by the bad weather. Therefore, it also keeps your birds safe during extreme winters.
On the other hand, the outdoor aviaries avoid clutter, mess, and bad odor of birds’ droppings in your home. Though birds get a lot of fresh air and natural light in an outdoor aviary, its material needs to be sturdy to tolerate extreme weather conditions. This makes it more expensive than an indoor aviary.
Moreover, an outdoor aviary needs special arrangements to protect birds from rodents, cats, and bigger birds of prey
Further, there are hybrid aviary options, wherein, the aviaries are portable. So you can change the location of the aviaries as per the weather conditions.
Choosing Birds for your Aviary
When you keep birds together, it is a good idea to keep in mind their breeding season and their partners. If you keep several species together in a single aviary, they might end up fighting and even killing a few birds.
Hence, a good idea is to keep either the same number of males and females or only single-sex birds. Certain large birds like parrots are better kept alone or only in pairs aloof from other species to avoid fights.
Another thing to note is that we should never overstock an aviary with a lot of birds of different or even of the same species. This way, you ensure that your birds will live happily and in harmony.
The utmost important thing to know while buying or building an aviary is to check its door system. Whether it is an indoor or an outdoor aviary, you need access to a place to keep fresh food and water for your birds and when you do so, you would not want them to fly away.
In a walk-in outdoor aviary, you should have a double-door system. So you can close the main door while entering the aviary to prevent your birds from flying away.
For an indoor aviary, you might not require such a double-door system. This is because the doors and the windows do the same task for you.
Some larger birds like budgerigars, parakeets, and parrots destroy plants and other fixtures in the aviary so it is better to avoid them.
However, smaller birds are more active and thus need more space for flying. Hence, if your feathered friends are smaller in size, avoid cluttering your aviary with too many perches, toys, and fixtures. Rather, allow them to have more space to enjoy their flights.
While looking for answers to the question ‘How to set up an aviary?’ one of the most important aspects to consider is ‘What should be on an aviary floor?’. Well, to begin with, flooring in an aviary differs from an outdoor and an indoor aviary.
Outdoor Aviary Flooring:
For an outdoor aviary, you need to install a proper foundation, without which your aviary structure will become unstable. This is because the weather will erode the base of the aviary. Again, there can be two types of foundations for an outdoor aviary.
The flooring in soft foundation consists usually of gravel. However, it is quite easy for predators like cats or foxes to dig into earth and gravel and reach the inner area of the aviary. This is where we will need a wire mesh in the foundation of the aviary.
This mesh will not only make the base of the aviary weather tolerant and strong but also prevent predators to reach your pet birds inside the aviary.
One thing to note here is to use gravel of the size of small pebbles. If you use smaller-sized gravel, the birds might swallow them. Additionally, the advantage of using gravel is that the water will percolate down in the earth on its own.
A hard foundation is the one when you use concrete, paving stones, or flat bricks. The strength of these materials would not allow any predator to get in the aviary; hence, using wire mesh can be avoided in case of a hard foundation.
Moreover, the base of the foundation will be much stronger in this case.
With a hard foundation, you will have to include some drainage holes to stop water from accumulating in the aviary. You might also want to spread out a layer of sand over the concrete flooring.
This will give your birds a sense of their natural surroundings.
Another important thing to consider before installing an aviary is ‘How do you keep an aviary floor clean?’ or ‘How often should you clean an aviary?’.
To clean the floor of an aviary, the utmost thing is to sweep the concrete/stoned floor regularly. Take special care to remove the droppings and leftover food grains as that might attract a lot of mice, rats, and parasites in the aviary.
Since the parasites can be attracted in a matter of a few days. Therefore, these should be cleaned at least twice or thrice a week.
It is almost impossible to disinfect sand or gravel. Hence, to clean such floorings, you can remove the residents of the aviaries once a year, clean it thoroughly, lime it, and then return the birds to their habitat.
Indoor Aviary Flooring:
For indoor aviaries, avoid wooden or carpet flooring because birds might chew them. You can keep the aviary on tiled or concrete flooring directly and clean it regularly. There is also an option of using disposable birdcage liners for your indoor aviaries.
These are quite easy to clean and they also absorb water and other waste material to some extent. Hence, cleaning the aviary does not become a gigantic task.
Keeping Outdoor Aviary Warm in the Winters
For a bird lover and keeper, winters are a matter of grave concern for the well-being of their birds, especially if they live in an outdoor aviary.
If you too have an outdoor aviary, you must be concerned about ‘How do I keep my outdoor aviary warm in the winter?’
You can keep your outdoor aviary warm in two steps – generating the heat and insulating the aviary.
Generating the Heat:
You can generate heat in your aviary through tubular heaters or ceramic bulbs. For this, you will have to install a power source in your aviary. Do not forget to guard your power source with a cover or else your birds might end up hurting themselves.
Insulating the Aviary:
The heat generated from the source will get dissipated rapidly if the aviary is not well insulated. Therefore, insulate your aviary in a similar way as you would insulate your home.
Fill in the gap between the inside and the outside of the aviary with insulating material like bubble wrap or polystyrene. While insulating, do not forget to leave room for some natural light.
How Much Does an Aviary Cost?
To understand the cost part of installing a birdhouse or a flight cage, you first need to compute the required size of your aviary.
As a thumb rule, a budgie needs a minimum of 13 cm length and 6.5 cm width in an aviary. Therefore, in an aviary measuring about 130cm x 130cm x 65cm, ten budgies can live comfortably.
Now, you need to get an idea of what size of an aviary you would need as per your birds’ size and population density.
Depending on whether you install an indoor or an outdoor aviary, built-in or assembled aviary, wire mesh or concrete flooring, walk-in or not, the type of heating and insulation you use, the size of the aviary, and several other factors; your aviary can cost you as low as $500 to $3000 and even more.
How to Maintain an Aviary
Below are some quick tips of how you can maintain your aviary and ensure happiness and good health for your birds –
- Regularly clean and, if needed, replace the perches of your birds.
- Clean your aviary regularly to avoid creating it a breeding ground for parasites, bacteria, fungus, etc.
- Maintain comfortable levels of humidity inside your aviary. Too much dampness can attract prolific breeding of mites, lice, and worms.
- Prevent entry of worms, rodents and other predators through walls or foundation of the aviary.
- Plant greens and grasses to complement your birds’ choices.
- Clean nesting places of your birds frequently.
- Provide the occupants of your aviary with fresh nesting material if your birds prefer to construct their own nests.
A beautiful and comfortable aviary constructed with love for your feathered friends can increase the quality of their lives.
However, birds are very delicate and a little ignorance while installing an aviary can even make their survival difficult. Hence, it is important to first educate yourself completely before you plan to install an aviary in your home.
Related Read: How To Cope With The Loss Of My Pet Bird