Housing and Birdroom Management

The manner in which an aviary or Birdroom is designed can add or detract from one’s enjoyment of the hobby.

Until established in the hobby and sure that this is the interest you intend to follow, great expense and unnecessary outlay can be avoided by making use of the existing available space. A garden shed, unused room in the house or even a sectioned off rear of a garage can all be utilised and arranged to successfully house and breed exhibition Budgerigars during the formative years. My first outside flight was a disused wardrobe with the front removed and replaced with wire netting and laid on its side. The sleeping quarters was a “tea chest” fitted with legs and attached to the side of the wardrobe. During the early- and middle-1950s this served me well together with a few breeding cages in my parent’s garden shed.

No Thought Given to Design

Gradually this was extended to a number of units which like “topsy” grew and grew with no real thought to design and became a bit of a shanty town. All this however cost very little, and during that period I began to form the idea of what type of establishment would really suit the requirements of the birds and become an enjoyable feature of the garden. This I was able to achieve when moving to my present home in 1977. I prepared a master plan based on my own and other fanciers’ experiences and gradually developed the aviary I have today.

Avoid Problems

First and foremost there are certain preliminary steps to be taken which can avoid unnecessary confrontations with neighbours and local authorities. Don’t forget that the erection of a large birdroom in the back garden can often irritate a neighbour both the aspect of noise and appearance. The legal position can often favour the complainant when neighbours fall out.

Firstly with regard to planning and the District Council. Recent legislation has made allowance for certain structures under what is referred to as “exempt regulation”. No planning approval is required in certain circumstances. These apply to structures such as greenhouses, carports, garden sheds, some sun lounges and aviaries, as long as certain criteria are complied with. The structure in question must not exceed 50% of the garden space available. It must be at least one metre from the boundary with your neighbours and must not exceed 4 metres in height with an apex roof. The maximum space permitted without approval is 40 square metres as long as this does not exceed the 50% of garden space mentioned above.

You must be cautious however, as previous additional development to your property affect the amount of space permitted for your aviary. Also the Local Authority’s interpretation of the term “aviary” differs from area to area and in all cases applies only to the hobbyist. A very large aviary using up the maximum space may be regarded by some authorities as a business, and planning approval would then be required. Don’t forget that although legally an aviary may be permitted the question of noise pollution is a separate issue and can still bring problems.

Seek Advice First

With regard to planning approval I would recommend going along to your local council taking with you a simple plan of your garden. This should show house and the other houses in the immediate vicinity. It should include boundary fences and walls and other structures such as greenhouses or sheds already in your garden. Once verbal agreement has been reached send them a courteous letter together with a copy of the agreed plan and request that they confirm in writing that they have no objection. The reply, if favourable, should be kept somewhere safe for future reference should the need arise. Next call on adjoining neighbours and seek their approval of what you are planning. Offset any doubt they may have regarding noise or spoilt views and you will be off to a good start.

When deciding on the construction, many factors must be determined, and in the majority of cases cost will be the main factor. I personally favour a brick or block structure as I consider the atmosphere within, both for temperature and humidity, is more stable than with a timber construction. Nevertheless, in my case I eventually decided on timber. You can plan your own shed to vour personal requirements and most timber merchants will build what you require at little extra cost. Take advice on the thickness of the timber as a long exposed shed wall, if insufficiently supported, can be subjected to excessive wind pressure and collapse.

Ventilation Prevents Disease

My own birdrooms are ten feet high at the roof apex. to allow plenty of air circulation, with all natural light and louvre-type ventilators at a high level above the cages. This I feel gives plenty of ventilation which reduces incidences of dead in shell and also allows the use of all wall areas, with the exception of the door space. All walls and ceilings are insulated with Cosywrap before cladding with “laconite”, a spray-painted surface board. This allows me to keep the temperature at a reasonable level with just a one kilowatt fan heater, thermostatically controlled, throughout the colder winter months, when the birds are breeding. The wall surfaces can be easily washed down.

Flight areas, both inside and out, are in my opinion, essential to maintain fit active Budgerigars throughout their lives, from barhead to adult. Flights prevent the build up of excess body fat, particularly in hens. In providing flying areas certain rules should be adhered to.

  1. Make sure that the inside flight (sleeping area) has at least two perch spaces available for each bird to permit movement.
  2. Ensure that both inside and outside flights have sufficient space to accommodate the number of birds you can expect to produce. Overcrowding can easily lead to outbreaks of disease.
  3. Have an opening between the inside and outside flights, sufficiently big to allow large numbers of birds to fly together, tiny bobholes lead to broken necks!
  4. Vary the perch size and level to ensure adequate exercise for feet and wings.

Cages vary in size and design but I consider that stock cages of good size are essential for housing barheads on weaning, for show preparation and for sale birds.

Wire Cages Stimulate Birds

With regard to breeding purposes, some seventeen years ago, after discussion with Dob Travinecek of the USA, I started to use the all-wire cage. Based on the theory I stated earlier, this was to suit the bird rather than to look as attractive as a matching block of conventional cages. The Budgerigar is a gregarious, flock bird, preferring the company of many of its own kind. It is stimulated by the sight and sound of other Budgerigars. The wire cages simulate a controlled colony type breeding environment. I have found it to be beneficial to my breeding success particularly with difficult birds. A similar effect can be achieved by using wire or glass separating slides in conventional cages.

Heating of the breeding space during the winter months is, I consider, highly desirable. A minimum temperature of 50 Fahrenheit should be aimed at although a temperature of 60 Fahrenheit is really enjoyed by the Budgerigar. Heating, together with adequate and suitable lighting is most advantageous in achieving consistent early breeding results. Probably one of the most essential pieces of equipment is the night light. This permits a low level of lighting throughout the birdroom during the hours of darkness. There is no doubt that this can reduce the incidence of addled eggs and infant mortality in the event of night fright by allowing hens to find their way back to the nestbox following a disturbance.

Hens Will Nest Anywhere

Nesting boxes are also found in many different sizes and designs. No matter what the human eye perceives as suitable, hen Budgerigars will seek out any dark corner or enclosed space to lay their eggs. For purely reasons of convenience, I adopted the plastic nest box some years ago, and use these in all my wire cages. They are long-lasting, easy to clean, do not harbour mites, and in the event of a joint breaking are very easy to repair with a hard plastic adhesive. I still use a wooden concave and a handful of sawdust with these nest boxes.

American Innovation Pays Dividends

One recent addition to my outside flights, which I discovered in the United States, is a water misting system. This sprays a very fine rain over the birds which is most welcome during hot spells and can be used to improve feather condition during the weeks leading to the open shows. It is also most effective in bringing birds into wonderful breeding condition when used after the Autumn moult. I feel it simulates the natural rain which occurs in the Australian Spring thereby triggering the birds’ own reaction.

This subject of management has many different facets all of which I cannot touch but there are the basic points.

Original text: Copyright 1995 Jeff Attwood

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