Hands-on Finches

Bruce Dixon, Melbourne, Australia
(NFSS – Sept/Oct 1998)

apdixonhold-164x180Can I say from the onset how fortunate we are in this country being blessed with both space and climate that allows the Australian aviculturists to enjoy the pleasure of outside open flights for the majority of our birds.

During the winter as an example where I am situated in the southeastern corner of Australia, our lowest temperature in winter seldom drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Having experienced first hand North American and Canadian winters, I perhaps have a greater appreciation of the difficulties that you face, and the obvious need for birdroom breeding.

When I re-established my interest in aviculture a couple of years ago, I will admit that my enthusiasm probably raced ahead of my logic. Perhaps I would have been wiser to undertake a prolonged survey of some of my peer breeders; looking at their facilities, learning from their mistakes, and adapting them to suit my needs, positioning and budget constraints.

Nevertheless having not done this, my first aviary was not that far below my ideals. And whilst it will undergo a couple of minor construction changes in our coming winter to better utilize space management; even in its current form our birds have enjoyed the environment that it has provided.

This first aviary is 18 ft. long x 7 ft. deep x 8 ft. high, and is divided into two flights, entry being gained from a completely enclosed “lock up” at one end 3 ft wide. This lock up facility affords enormous security coming and going when tending our birds.

Our prevailing bad weather comes from the south, west, or southwest. This aviary faces north and as such gets sun from early afternoon all through the year. Primarily of treated pine construction, the walls are clad in fibro cement sheeting, metal roof, interspersed with ploy carbonate sheets to let in as much natural light as possible.

The use of large quantities of brush, which is readily available right throughout the country, provides shelter, amusement and an environment totally conducive to a natural breeding climate for our birds.

Like so many of you, we are not blessed with unlimited space to build all the aviaries we may wish. Mine is a typical suburban block, and when taking into account the positioning of any aviary to safeguard from prevailing bad winds, I really was scratching my head to work out where the next inevitable aviary was going to go. I had areas facing east, and realistically the longer and harder I looked the more daunting it was becoming, as most of these easterly facing positions were utilized by other aspects of our home.

There was one area behind the garage however that was perfect, but just happened to house a magnificent area of semi-rainforest gardens but it faced the right direction.

The area and the topography of the area was fraught with problems.apdixonout-160x160

Because of the construction of the garage
And because of the angles of the ground where the aviary would be sited.
When the decision was made to build the aviary OVER the garden, I also realized that the project, construction wise, was far beyond anything I would attempt in my wildest dreams.

I invited a builder friend around for a cup of coffee told him what I wanted, and he said sorry it’s beyond me. He also said that there is not one square angle from which I can work and I had to agree there was not one.

I persevered with him however, and finally persuaded him to at least try. The morning he commenced, the amount of Oregon timber that arrived was enough to put another room on the house. It took him a week to get the frame up and about that long again to work out the angles for the roofing materials. I can not begin to tell you the admiration that I have for this man’s ingenuity and patience. For although the pictures that accompany this article may indicate a straightforward run of the mill aviary, the roofing computations alone are monumental.

The aviary that you see in this article is 25 ft. long x 10 ft high x 10 ft. deep. If you are wondering why so high, very simply to tie in literally with the garage roofline construction.

Internally, I believe its bird heaven. If I was a bird it’s where I would choose to live. It is literally full of rainforest plants, huge tree ferns, ground ferns of many types, azaleas, and a proliferation of small bushes.

25 ft. long x 10 ft high x 10 ft. deep Aviary
The area is watered by a built-in sprinkler system, which the birds adore, and love playing in the misting spray the sprinkler creates. The floor is totally natural earth. Presents no problems to clean and maintain, and again the birds spend literally hours playing and foraging on the floor.

Inside of 25 ft. long x 10 ft high x 10 ft. deep Aviary
The final problem of capture in this size aviary I solved by making up a catching cage controlled from the outside of the aviary. This cage just also happens to be their feeding station and is where they receive their food every day, both dry and live food.

This aviary is ideally suited to colony breeding and although I do not practice it could if required comfortably accommodate a very large colony of a particular type.

apdixonin-160x160Currently I house in this aviary:
Red faced parrot finches
Cordons
Owls
Cubans

The aviary is in my opinion not only a wonderful environment for the birds but has become due to its finish, a great asset to the garden and living area at the rear of the house. The hours of planning, building, painting, and the myriad of little jobs to get it to the state it is now have, in my opinion all been worthwhile. And I am really proud of the achievement (thanks to a great builder).

To those of you who do have outside aviaries and are plagued with the problem of actually seeing clearly and in detail what is in the aviary, you will be staggered how you can improve your vision by painting over your bird wire with a gloss black enamel paint. Where the opportunity presents itself, paint the inside and the outside.

It does no harm to your birds, just make sure before painting that you wash down your wire with a 50/50% solution of brown vinegar and water. This removes any loose or active galvanizing that may be on your wire. Small paint rollers available from craft suppliers or paint stores are perfect for paint application. It is easy to do and as I say you won’t believe the difference it makes to your seeing what’s happening within your aviary.

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