A New Outdoor Aviary

We’ve just finished building another another outside aviary, and it’s just beautiful. Of course, we’ve stated it at least a half dozen times before. Despite all of our meticulous preparation, we are always obliged to admit that there are certain things we should have done differently once our flock has been in residence for a few months.

Here in North Florida, where winters may be cooler than in the south, we’ve discovered that our original open aviary design is still viable. We extended it to 144 feet in length and 18 feet in breadth this time. Side walls are now eight feet tall, with two-by-four uprights every four feet. The two long sides are surrounded by 1/2 x 1 inch wire.

We picked a stiff material called Gavalume for the roof covering after much investigation. This product is made up of galvanized metal and aluminum layers that are welded together for strength and corrosion resistance. We utilized corrugated transparent fiberglass material for the roof of our last aviary, with devastating consequences. It not only allowed in the light as anticipated, but it also let in all the heat. It also couldn’t support enough weight for repairs when damage from fallen tree limbs was letting in a little too much rain.

Every four feet, this material is supported by prefabricated pressure treated trusses. The lowest borders of the long sides are wired in only, allowing the birds access to sunlight and rain as they like. It is insulated with Tuff-R insulation and has ridge vents along the length of it.

These ridge vents are brand new. The increasing temperature

Air produces a positive flow and prevents heat from being trapped behind the peak. The aviary, which is partially shaded by large Oak trees, is a cool spot to be on a hot day.

Metal strands from 2x4s run perpendicular to the rafters hang the cages. We stopped supporting cages on racks entirely. The racks not only made cleaning difficult, but they were continually damaged by our birds biting on them all the way through the wire of their cages. Our experience has shown that higher is better for breeding birds. Their cage bottoms are now 53 inches off the floor, providing them the reassurance of gazing down on the people who care for them.

The majority of the cages are two feet wide, three feet high, and six feet deep, which is enough for most species. We’ve set them two feet apart not just for the birds’ benefit, but also to make cleaning and changing perches and nest boxes easier. A wheeled cart along the central isle serves all food and water dishes.

We’ve dealt with several different kinds of flooring in our aviaries, and our choice to go with poured concrete almost broke the bank. Dirt flooring made hosing cages a muddy chore and caused an ant infestation. Wood decking, which seemed to be a great answer at first, turned out to be a paradise for rats, insects, and mildew. We had the four-foot boardwalk in the middle poured level and rough completed. The walkway’s seven feet on each side are graded with a two-inch pitch, smooth finished, and sealed. The graded areas underneath the cages are entirely open and readily cleaned with a hose since the cages are hung. A modest retaining wall was required around the rear of the aviary due to the slope of the ground. This side has a series of drains that flow into disposal wells. Raised flower gardens towards the front make excellent use of the washing water.

The solid Galvalume material used on the roof is utilized to encase the eighteen foot end walls. This is for noise reduction as well as wind protection during the colder months of the year.

We fenced their end of the aviary with six foot wooden privacy fencing panels for the extra solitude that breeding African Grays desire. These are set one foot from the top and bottom to allow for light and air circulation.

The birds are classified by species and noise level. African Grays are at the quiet end, while Macaws and Cockatoos are at the raucous end. We’re thinking about putting up divider walls between the species for privacy, but we’re going to test out the “great room” effect first.

Our flock soon adjusted to their new surroundings.

The birds seem to be happy and healthy. Maintenance seems to have been minimized to the greatest extent practicable. Perhaps we have finally reached perfection this time, but only time will tell.

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