An Aviary for the Novice

T. George Clymire


Most fanciers reach a point when cages alone are no longer adequate as a means of housing their birds. It is at this time that an aviary or aviaries become optimum for the sheltering of pets and breeders. It is important to create an environment conducive to the natural life processes of all your birds and the aviary has attributes that should not be overlooked. Among these are: room for nesting. plenty of fresh air. adequate sunlight, and most important. space for flight.

Once the decision to build an aviary has been reached, there are some questions that should be considered. How much space is available? Where will it be located? Does that location provide sun. shade, as well as protection from extreme climatic conditions') Last but not least. how does the estimated cost fit into your budget'?

If you live in an area with a mild climate. your aviary can be more open. with the emphasis on more exposure and less protection. In more severe environments, it is necessary to have some way of closing off part of the aviary. This requires a more sophisticated type of construction which will usually be reflected in the cost of the unit.

Before you proceed. it is a good idea to investigate building codes in your area. When conversing with the building authorities use the term "bird pen" instead of "aviary". The latter term is generally reserved for commercial endeavor and this distinction will prevent you from getting tangled up with the coding regulations in the area.

There are two basic types of aviaries, permanent and temporary or "knockdown ... Permanent structures fall under building codes, while knockdown or bolt together units are movable and do not.

Aviaries can be built of either wood or metal, with metal being more resistant to weather and wear and tear. As metal aviaries require special tools and are too difficult and costly for the novice builder, I have chosen to discuss the bolt-together. wooden aviary. which is comprised of modular, interchangeable units. that can be expanded to a larger structure when and if the need arises.

The type of birds to be housed is another determining factor in construction costs. Larger birds, especially hookbills, require a heavier grade of wire. Because of the annoying tendency of regular aviary wire to stretch out of shape, I recommend the use of hardware cloth.


The size of the wire escalates in accordance with the size of the birds, the heaviness of the wire, and its cost. (For example: finches, parakeets, and cockatiels, use W' x W'; conures. lovebirds, ~" x J": parrots, cockatoos. l " x 2".) If you have rodent, reptile. or wild bird problems, it is a must to use the smallest hardware cloth and a base board to prevent pests from digging in to the unit.

All of the framing for the modules will be done in 2" x 2" lengths of douglas fir with a W' plywood skin and hardware cloth. It includes a safety hall, to prevent bird losses and to provide storage space. The dimensions of the completed unit are: 4' W x 7' H x 8' L.

Tools required: measunng tape, pencil, square, hammer, saw (hand or power), drill (electric or hand), and drill bits of 5/16" and 1/8".


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