An Impossible Situation

Hank Brawley


I have had Pionus now more than five years; have had almost all the species and to date have had success with four species. I chose the Pionus because as I approached the city regarding a building permit for an aviary, I hit the first brick wall. Absolutley not! No birds, poultry or anything in my neighborhood. There may even be a bag-limit on kids. After much hassling and many trips, I finally found two employees on duty one lunch hour. Neither knew what an aviary was, so they okayed the plans and issued the permit. Wow!

Believe me, that weekend I had a contractor pour the foundation. As the picture will show, I have five flights attached to the south side of a double garage. A three foot hallway runs the length of the building with a door entering each flight. The 1/2 x 1 inch wire enclosures are 3 ft. x 6 ft. x 6 ft.

 Three feet of the enclosure is under the roof portion and three feet is exposed to sun, rain, etc. One very dumb carpenter and I, plus my son and various neighbors, had the thing 'bird livable' in about 30 days or so. Prior to that I had birds stacked all over the house and a mad wife.

Usually in Dallas we have very mild winters, maybe a few days of 20 ° weather, but then the sun pops out and we range in the 40-65 ° type of weather. The first winter the birds were out, we had the most severe winter in 100 years of record-keeping. There were 296 consecutive hours of below freezing during which the sun did not appear one time. The temperature went down to 5 degrees two nights in a row. I could stand it no longer and brought the birds all in the house again.

My son and I, in sub-freezing weather, finally located a roll of Hart- 0-G lass which is actually screen overshot with plastic, and we applied that to all outside surfaces. Then we found a blower-type electric heater and set it at 40 ° and replaced the birds in the aviaries.

There is the ground work, now I'll tell you the story. Nothing about the birds seemed to be damaged except on one dusky male (P fuscus). In 60 days, he had lost every toe he possessed. I call him "Stubby". By that time, the white crowns had eggs so the only damage was to Stubby's feet.

Now when Pionus breed, they are not the mounting type bird. They sit side by side and more or less turn their rears to each other for contact. As you can imagine, this takes toes and toenails to hang on to a perch. This spelled doom for Stubby as a breeder. But, I reasoned, I did this to him so it's up to...

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