Step 8: Put birds out at the right time of the year. You can’t just introduce the birds to the aviary any old time and expect them to thrive. The best time to put the birds out for the first time is when the nights are staying at 60 degrees F or above overnight. And when the temperature is about the same inside and out. Not too hot during the day, not cold overnight. This will give the birds time to acclimate to the weather, and by the time winter rolls in, they will be able to adjust. They still need a place to shelter out of the wind and rain, and that is all part of the aviary design. In addition, give the birds light fairly early in the morning during cold weather, so they can start eating early. This will help their metabolisms fire up and stay warm.
In San Diego county, we get a morning cloudiness called June Gloom, or even May Gray. It’s usually mid-July before I can put the birds outside. They will need a few weeks to get that acclimatization, so the latest I can put them out is in early October.
Step 9: If you were not able to buy a pre-made aviary or pay someone to make one for you, now is the time to get working on making your own. Draw up the design or find one you like in a book or on line. (http://www.finchinfo.com/housing/panel_form_aviary_construction.php for example) Buy the materials. Be sure to include a roofed area that has at least two sides. Measure the area and set up your sides.
When Mike and I set up the main aviary, it went pretty easily without much revision. Then we added on the airlock. Still simple. Then we added on a second cage on the other side of the airlock. A few walls and roof were added, still not a major project.
Then I got a really good deal on breeding cages, and expected to have them up and full of lovebirds by now. But one was needed for surplus button quail. And then Mike told me he didn’t like putting the lovies out in cages that didn’t have an airlock. So we moved the cage that had only doves in it by this time, and configured the airlock and two of the breeder cages to fit together. To Mike’s chagrin, he was misremembering the measurements of the cage, so back to the drawing board. Hopefully we will have the cages ready before the end of the month.
Instead of four cages each with a family of love birds (the breeding pair and their offspring if we let them raise any), I will have two cages like that and maybe one with all the other lovies. There should be enough space for them to get along pretty well. I have an elderly pair, a non-breeding pair, and another non-breeding pair. I have visions of getting all the lovebirds outside, moving the conures to the bird room, and someday watching a movie and hearing the dialogue.
First the weather was too cool, so the extra cages just sat, ignored. They made great flat surfaces outside for drying things and placing projects. Then the weather warmed up, and we got the materials needed, but then the handyman forgot about the project. So I started reminding him. Gently. Repeatedly. Then the weather became toooo hot. Last Wednesday, when I got home from work, we cut the lumber needed for the legs of the cages and the cross supports. Just some drilling and fastening to do now! Thursday it never cooled off enough to do anything. Friday the same. Saturday I have a bird club meeting in the cool of the evening. Soon it will be too late in the summer to put the birds outside. Oh, well.
Step 10: Become incredibly rich and buy a pre-made air-locked aviary from Wingz. (http://www.kwcages.com/wingzcatalog/s00004.html) The way you get rich should not include breeding and selling birds. Let’s face it, if you are in this for the money, you are wasting your time and probably not treating your birds very well. You can’t skimp on cages, toys, food, nutrition, or vet care. You will have to spend a good deal of money on your breeders. Probably my most expensive investment in a bird has been my “white” Indian ringneck parakeet “hen” Wraith. I quote white because this bird is now the most beautiful gray ever seen. And hen because he has brought out a neck ring, a sure sign that he is male. With Indian ringnecks, you lay out good money and have to wait 2 years before breeding. Or you may buy proven breeders but now we’re talking real money. Macaws and other parrots are more costly, in every way, not just initial outlay. Again, don’t get into bird breeding expecting to get rich, and count yourself lucky if you break even. (http://www.parrotforums.com/new-members-welcome/12122-how-much-does-parrot-breeder-make-general.html)
That’s it for the Aviary series. Next time, Getting Ready for a Bird Mart!