The design of your aviary is crucial and will depend on several factors. These include the number of birds you want to keep, the area available for the aviary, the amount of money you can afford to spend on it, and even the views of your family and neighbours. You will also need to beat in mind the weather, and ensure that your parakeets have the heat and shelter they will need to cope with colder winters.
You will need to check local by-laws or contracts to make sure there are no issues around aviary noise or planning permission.
Building an Aviary
If you will be building your aviary from scratch, cement or rubble will make the foundations, with a concrete floor on top. This can be hosed down easily, and not be the muddy, disease-ridden quagmire that an earth floor may transform into given a bit of time.
If you leave some holes in the concrete you’ll be able to plant some shrubs or small trees in the aviary. Gravel or sawdust can be spread on the floor, but remember, you will have to clean the space out.
The frame of your aviary can be stone, metal (non-rusting) or plastic. The walls and roof should be made from an appropriate galvanised wire mesh. For parakeets, the wire should be no thinner than 16-gauge for parakeets; but bear in mind that if you are planning on keeping larger birds, such as a cockatiel, you will need thicker wiring. Thin wire is also much more fragile, and anything falling against it could lead to holes opening up in the side.
An aviary for parakeets, cockatiels, and finches
The most challenging part of the design is more often than not the door. A ready made door is a handy short-cut, and a sliding structure may save on space. Some sort of porch area, to accommodate an inner and outer door, will prevent any birds from escaping.
Another thing you will need to do is build a covered space in the aviary. This will enable the birds to escape the ravages of the weather. This roofed space should take up at least a third of the space. Use corrugated plastic panels or untreated hardwood to make a roof with at least two walls. This area does not need to be fully enclosed -- it’s a wind and sun shade, not a house. Additional, removable wall sections (with holes for entry and exit) and a bit of insulation can come in handy for the colder months.
That being said, if you have a big aviary, you may want to look into having a permanent indoor space. This will provide the birds with somewhere to completely escape the outdoors if they feel the need to.
Parakeet Aviary Size
The size of your aviary will dictate how many birds you can keep. As a general rule, you’ll need at least 5 inches aviary length per parakeet, with a width measuring at least half of the length. So, for example, a cage measuring 50x50x25 inches can house 10 parakeets. Scaling up, a cage measuring 250x250x125 inches will house 50 birds.
A parakeet perched outdoors
Parakeet aviary accessories
An aviary needs to be kitted out like a cage, only on a larger scale. Make sure you have at least 2 feeding and drinking areas, and plenty of perches and swings to keep all your feathery inhabitants happy and comfortable.
Keeping parakeets warm outdoors
If you plan on keeping your birds in an outdoor aviary, you will need to heat it in the colder months. There are a few things you can do to keep the place warmer without the need for added heaters, however. The covered, interior section of the aviary should be completely weatherproof, and you can insulate the interior too. This should follow the same basic principle as house insulation, construct walls with a gap between the interior exterior. This cavity can be lined or filled with a polystyrene, bubble wrap or a similar insulating material. Polystyrene sheets covered with plywood will work a treat.
Parakeets don’t like draughts. This means that even in the warmer months of the year they will still need a place to escape the whims of the weather. A few cosy nesting boxes and ledges in the enclosed area of your aviary will help the birds keep warm and comfortable.
In milder climates you can get away with these precautions and nothing else, but you should always be ready for a sudden colder spell. In a situation like this, the only thing that can guarantee the survival of your birds is the addition of extra heating.
Budgie perched on the side of an outdoor aviary
To ensure full safety for your birds, you will have to make sure that your heat supply is non-hazardous.
- Never use an open fire, a barbecue pan for example. The smoke and fumes from the fire can kill your parakeets. You will also need to keep this in mind if you are having an open fire somewhere outside and the wind is blowing in the direction of the aviary.
- Don’t use a house heater, whether gas or electric. These are not only fire hazards, but they also release fumes which are toxic to the birds.
- Camping stoves again are no good. The problem with this is, not surprisingly, toxic fumes
- If you don’t have any electricity in the aviary, you should seriously consider supplying it. It will be a great help in supplying heating. One non-electrical solution to your heating problem is to place hot water bottles in the covered section of the cage. These bottles will lose heat overnight, but it should be enough to make the parakeets comfortable. Always make sure to cover the bottles to prevent the roasting birds from perching on them and getting scorched.
- If you do have electricity in your aviary, a powerful bulb or two (120 watts should be good) or a ceramic heat lamp (up to 250 watts) will do the job. Make sure that these bulbs have heat-proof covers to prevent the birds from burning themselves.
- If you do a bit of looking around you will be able to find some purpose-made aviary tube-lamp heaters, or wall-mounted heaters, of a suitable size too. Some of these come with thermostats which is ideal. When it dips below a certain temperature, the heater will kick in. 40 degrees fahrenheit is a good setting. Anything higher and it will be kicking in all the time.
- Make sure to carry out regular checks on any appliance you use, to make sure it’s all working as it should.