Saturday, May 28, 2011


Rosebud, a Rosy Bourke, with Ricky, a Normal male Bourke, in their outdoor flight near Portland, Oregon.
Rosebud and Ricky indoors.
Earlier I posted about letting handfed, tame Rosebud go. Never thought I'd sell her, but without a mate and being chased by her sister who has a mate ... well, it seemed she could be happier, and now I'm sure she is.  Located near Portland, Oregon she even has an outdoor flight, and her new owners were kind enough to send these pictures of her in new home. This outside flight inspired the post on housing birds outdoors.
Sizes and designs for outdoor cages or aviaries can vary widely. From small cages attached to a window from the outside, allowing birds to travel indoors and out, to enormous structures that house many, many birds.

The photo below was taken of me in 1962 at the San Diego Zoo in California. It’s a huge, heavily planted aviary. Walkways wind their way downward and are defined by round wooden handrails, fenced below to keep visitors on the the paths. It housed many large exotic birds, and still does.

As a child, my parents built my first aviary for Budgerigar Parakeets inside a very large garden lathe house. The aviary filled one corner and was 12 feet by 12 feet and seven feet high. It had a sloping tin roof to shed rain and the enclosure on three sides was of chicken wire. One wall was the side of a garden shed and solid.

In Southern California the weather was warm enough year around that no heat source was necessary. Birds could avoid drafts and did very well in that sheltered environment. Although young budgies did slip through the chicken wire occasionally, but they always returned.

Later, when we added Australian and African finches, my father built a long narrow aviary 18 feet long and six feet high, using smaller gauge wire. One half of the aviary had a fully arched, shingled roof and was enclosed with solid walls on three sides. The other half was all wire, including the top. Birds flew freely between the two spaces. In the enclosed half he added an electric light bulb near the ceiling with plenty of perches near it. As these were expensive birds vs. budgies, he wanted to be sure they had a heat source in the winter. They could crowd near the light bulb for warmth.

Low "half" doors on aviaries.
 Doors on all our aviaries were “half” doors. Meaning that they required an adult to bend over to enter. Rather than providing a double door as protection from birds flying out, the half door was all that was required. Birds tend to fly high and the door was low. They also flew away from us when we entered. Double doors, where you enter an area and close the door behind you before opening the actual door into the aviary, are common in zoo’s and offer more protection from avian escapes.

Java Rice Sparrows
However our half doors always provided enough protection. Our only “escapee” was a Java Rice Sparrow that my five-year-old sister was allowed to take to school for show and tell. A classmate opened the carrying cage door and the bird flew out. We lived several blocks from the elementary school, but that afternoon the bird was back inside our aviary. He found his way home and squeezed into the aviary through the chicken wire, which could have allowed his escape at any time. But, like most captive birds, his aviary was his sanctuary and he had no reason to leave it.

Even my indoor birds remain caged when I clean their cages. I leave the large front doors open and go in and out, turn away to retrieve things, and they never leave their home. It’s their security. Birds raised in captivity, which have always been in a cage, are afraid to leave it. Tame birds, on the hand, can’t wait to get out! Ours are used to a daily free flight in the kitchen and living room and take advantage of any other opportunity.

Below are a few aviary examples. May you be blessed with happy, healthy birds.

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