Another thing you must factor in if you plan on keeping your birds in an outdoor aviary is heating. During the colder months of the year your birds will have a hard time keeping themselves warm and heating will be needed. There are several things you can do to make their aviary as cosy as possible. The covered, interior area of the enclosure should be fully weatherproof, and ideally insulated too. Insulation follows the same basic principle as house insulation, construct walls with a gap between the interior and exterior, this gap can then be filled with polystyrene, bubble wrap or whatever insulating material you have at your disposal. Polystyrene sheets covered with plywood also make for a good option.
Aviary birds need extra heating in the winter. This is a White-rumped Munia, the ancestor of the popular Society Finch.
Finches do not like draughts, so even in the warmer spring and summer months they will still need a place they can go to escape the weather. Cosy nesting boxes and ledged in the sheltered or enclosed area of your aviary will help keep your birds warm.
In places with milder winters you will be able to get away with only these precautions; but remember, if the temperature suddenly drops, the only thing that will ensure the survival of your birds is extra heating..
To keep your birds safe as well as warm you’ll need to make sure that your heating supply is non-hazardous.
- Never use an open fire (a garden brazier or barbecue pan, for example). The smoke and fumes from these can kill birds (something to bear in mind if you’re using said items in the garden and the wind is blowing in the direction of the aviary).
- Don’t use a house heater, whether gas or electric. These are not just fire hazards, they also release fumes which are toxic to the birds.
- Camping stoves are no good either – toxic fumes are the problem once again.
- If there’s no electricity in the aviary, seriously consider supplying it. Otherwise you might struggle. One option is to put hot water bottles in the covered section of the cage. These will lose heat overnight, but should be enough to keep the finches comfortable. Always cover the bottles to prevent the roosting birds getting scorched. If you have an electricity supply in the aviary, a powerful bulb or two (120 watts is good) or a ceramic heat lamp (up to 250 watts) will do the job. These will need heat-proof covers to prevent the birds burning themselves.
- You can buy purpose-made aviary tube-lamp heaters, or wall-mounted heaters, in various sizes. Some of these come with thermostats, which is ideal – when it dips below a certain temperature the heater will kick in. 5C is a good setting: any higher and it will be kicking in all the time in the UK!
- Carry out regular checks on any appliance you use, to make sure it’s working as it should.