Monday, January 4, 2010

Designing & Building Enrichment Aviaries

At the forthcoming Parrots 2010 Convention in Brisbane (July 2nd to 4th) I will be giving a presentation on designing and building enrichment enclosures for parrots. The key focus will be on creating safe and enriching outdoor flight enclosures for pet birds. Over the next couple of months I thought I would share some snippets of what will be featured in that presentation via my Blog. What I will be aiming to do is to post progress photos to show the construction of a set of three flights that I am currently building. The first couple of images below show two different angles looking at the front of the complex. The complex will be composed of three flights, each measuring 3.6m long x 1.8m wide x 2.1m high. They will be configured with a central walkway to service all three flights. The birds that will be housed in these enclosures will be various Lory species but the design could accommodate any small to medium parrot, up to the size of an Amazon. I would love for this next set of Blog entries to be interactive so if you have any questions about aviary design or construction then please contact my via e-mail at I won't be able to personally reply via e-mail but what I will hopefully be able to do is to share your question and suggest an answer via these Blog posts.

So far we have welded the frames for the three enclosures and the additional walkway. To do this we used 25mm square RHS box galvanised tubing. Always use galvanised tubing for aviary frames to minimise rust corrosion and always use spray gal on the welded corners after smoothing out the welding with an angle grinder. Leaving bare tubing exposed to the elements without some form of galvanising protection will result in rust forming within weeks.

Now that the welding stage is complete, we have started to wire up the frames. We were lucky in being able to buy enough Waratah WeldMesh to complete this project before BHP/BlueScope Steel stopped production. This is the safest and absolutely the best weldmesh for aviary use and I'm very concerned about the future of obtaining decent quality wire now that Waratah Mesh will be unavailable. I have heard that a few aviculturists around Australia stockpiled it before it ran out. Wish I did the same to be honest. We now have to try and source good quality, safe wire from China. I've heard that some decent quality stuff is coming out but nothing that compares to Waratah. A huge BOOOOO!!! to BHP for leaving aviculturists in the lurch by no longer providing us with the best wire in the world for parrot enclosures.

Our preference for wire is 12.5mm square mesh size We used to use 25mm x 12.5mm square mesh but given that we live in a fairly high snake density area and have had problems with snakes in the past we don't use it anymore. You would be amazed at the size of carpet python that will squeeze through inch by half inch mesh!!! Touch wood, we're yet to have a snake make it through the 12.5mm square wire and we know they try because I've relocated 4 off the aviary roofs in the last two years. Better on the roof than under it me thinks :-). We use ~1.3mm gauge thickness as it is easier to manage and in my experience, we never have problems with birds `working' it and damaging it. You do have to be careful with perching and use some common sense when securing perches to 1.3mm gauge wire as it can tear if too much strain is placed on it. In the next post I will talk about securing wire to the frame and give some tips on that.

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