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Planning pet parrot environments - outdoor aviaries

Ideally, a parrot should spend some time outdoors, breathing fresh air, soaking up the sun, listening to wild birds, and exercising in ways not possible inside a house. Give up the idea that a single best aviary design exists. What matters is making smart choices for the parrot(s) you have, as though you were were customizing a home for yourself. As always, start by gathering information. Take your time, get expert opinions, and consider all options. If possible, visit different types of aviaries housing parrots like yours. If in-person visits are not possible, online images and videos are a reasonable substitute. Bigger is always better for the bird; but a safe, well-built smaller structure is better than a large problematic one. And always, ask questions! Here is our list that functions as a guideline to building the right aviary for your set of circumstances.


1.Where do you live? What is your climate? What severe weather can you expect? Will severe weather dictate protection from wind and rain as well as the use of heating, cooling, and misting systems?


2.Who are your neighbors and how close are they? Does your local county, neighborhood, development have relevant regulations regarding bird noise or building an aviary?


3.What bird or birds will you be housing? Do you want physical space flexibility to house different species?


4. Do you plan a DIY-from-scratch project? Would you prefer to buy an aviary that only requires assembly? Do you want to hire someone with the right qualifications and experience to build a custom structure? Do you want a permanently fixed aviary or one that could be moved?


5. How big an aviary will your birds need? Will it be a “walk-in” aviary with room for human interaction? Are you remembering to consider both climbing and flying spaces and the distance required to allow birds more than a flap or two to fly from perch to perch?


6. How will you get your bird in and out of the aviary? Do you want direct access from a door or window of your home? Should you have a double door design with a safety space between?


7. Inplacing the aviary, have you considered sun and shade paths throughout the year? Wind? A noisy air conditioner? Sources of pollution such as traffic or barbecues?


8.Will your bird(s) enjoy the aviary only in nice weather or will it be the primary housing year-round? (Remember a single bird in an aviary can be as lonely and bored as a single bird indoors.)


9.What material is suitable for your bird(s) and situation to secure durability, ease of cleaning, and safety? If a product is labeled as safe for humans, is it also safe for a parrot to climb on and chew it? (Pressure-treated wood may be toxic. Galvanized mesh can be produced by different methods, resulting in products of differing toxicity. The safest mesh is stainless steel.)


10.What predators and pests are in your area who might directly attack birds and/or spread disease? (Common dangers include cats, snakes, rodents, raccoons, hawks, mosquitoes, and other insects. Remember that the food your bird eats and drops will attract birds and rodents.)


Are you planning on adding mesh or a screening material to protect from talons and beaks (or even grasping raccoon hands) reaching through bars? (If you are not outside with your bird(s) while enjoying aviary time, the gold standard of aviary protection may require triple layering: a mosquito net, a mesh strong enough to keep out powerful predators such as raccoons yet fine enough to keep out rodents, and an inner mesh safe for your parrot to climb on.)


11.What kind of flooring is best for your avian species, knowing each choice has pros and cons? (Dirt, sand, or gravel requires a buried mesh to keep out predators while being difficult to clean and possibly harboring parasites.)

(Cement has the advantage of keeping out burrowing predators and can be washed to limit pathogens.) (Metal is another option, typically a metal frame base topped with perforated sheet metal.) (Both cement and metal floors can be left bare or covered with paper frequently changed.)


12.What kind of roofing is best for your parrot(s) and location? Have you considered the need for shade along with protecting your bird(s) from the stress of seeing cats, hawks, rodents, or other predators above them?

(Even otherwise harmless wild birds may carry parasites or other pathogens.)


13.What perches will you provide and how will you secure them? How will you clean them? Will they be easy to replace? Can you include a mix of fixed perches and perches that bend or swing? Can you include a raised platform for toys and novel items to explore, adding enrichment value?


14. What type of food and water containers will you use? How will they be secured? Will you have to go inside the aviary to service them (fill, empty, clean)?


15. Do you intend to include plants that are safe for your birds to ingest?

(Potted plants may be rotated to recover from being chewed, but the potting soil must also be bird safe.)


16. Do you plan to leave your parrot(s) in the outside aviary when no human is home? If so, what security measures are in place?

(It is not possible to keep the presence of a parrot secret. Parrot theft is becoming increasingly common, and thieves have proven adept at foiling many security measures.)


17. How will you clean the aviary? Will you install flooring that includes a drain? When you scrub with soap or blast with a hose, where will all the mess go?


18. In an emergency with possible mandatory evacuation, what is your plan for the aviary structure and the parrots in it?

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