Many people choose to design and build their own aviaries; but if you don’t feel up to a bit of DIY, you can buy a basic structure in a flat-pack style. These will usually consist of a metal or wooden frame covered in mesh. Your aviary will also need plenty of covered space, for roosting and for nesting. The main area (the parts where the birds will fly around in) should be at least 7ft long and 3.5ft deep.
Any paint used on perches, bars, feeding stations and other fitments and fittings must be non-toxic and weatherproof
Aviaries will allow your birds to enjoy the natural sunlight, whilst provident shelter when necessary. A bird room is a bit more problematic in the sense that the sun could shine through the windows and possibly overheat your finches. For this reason a bird room will need to be fitted with blinds or screens to reflect the sunlight and prevent the area from becoming a greenhouse.
The design of your aviary will be influenced by several factors - the number of birds you plan on keeping, the mix of species, the outdoor area you have at your disposal, the amount of money you are willing to spend on it, and the views of your family/neighbors!
Before you start planning anything, be sure to check your local by-laws or mortgage/rental contracts to make sure there will be no issues with your bird keeping, noise or planning permission.
Gouldian finches and Society finches in an aviary
Building an Aviary
If you plan on building from scratch, you will first have to choose a foundation. Cement or rubble with a concrete floor on top works best. Concrete can be easily hosed down and will save you so much time and effort in cleaning and disinfecting. Concrete will also prevent unwanted vermin such as mice or rats from burrowing underneath the floor. You can further reinforce this by putting mesh underneath the concrete.
If you leave some holes in the concrete you will be able to plant trees or shrubs directly into the ground. Gravel or sawdust can be spread onto the floor to make things look better, but remember that you will need to wash this place out once a week, and the more floor lining there is, the harder it will be to clean.
The frame of the aviary can be either stone, a non-rusting metal, or plastic. The walls should be made from an appropriate galvanised wire mesh. The wire you use will have to be at least 16 gauge, anything less and you are running the risk of your finches biting their way through and escaping.
Many keepers like to paint the mesh with a dark matt paint as this reduces glare. Make sure that the paint you are using is non-toxic, weatherproof and animal-friendly.
The aviary door will be the most challenging part of the design. A ready made door is a handy shortcut, and a sliding structure will be most efficient. A porch area, to accommodate inner and outer doors, will prevent any birds from escaping.
All cages must come equipped with a covered area that the finches can retreat to when the weather gets bad. This area should make up at least one third of the aviary. Use either corrugated plastic or untreated hardwood to make a roof and at least two walls. The area doesn’t have to be entirely closed off, it will mainly act as a wind and sun shade, not simply a place to hide. Additional, removable wall sections (with holes for entry and exit) will be needed during the winter for extra insulation.
This being said, if you have a larger aviary, a permanent indoor area is a good idea - somewhere the birds can retreat to or nest if they want. (See the Outdoor Heating section)
Any roof should have its edges hanging clear of the aviary to prevent drainage from spilling into the enclosure. If you are keeping finches and small parrots in adjacent aviaries, or are separating the two by partitioning the space, be sure to use a double layer of mesh between the two avian camps to prevent any of the parrots having a sneaky nip at a stray finch leg.