Believe it or not, in Southern California, there is a short window from July through September when birds can be introduced to outside cages or aviaries, and have time to acclimate before cold weather sets in. The best time is when overnight temperatures stay above 60 degrees F. and the outside temperature is about the same as the inside temperature. You don’t want to shock the bird on the first day with a drastic change.
Make sure your aviary has no holes, no gaps, no doors that will catch and stay open. Make sure the wire is the correct size for your bird. Look for places where a beak, foot, or head might get caught or stuck. Imagine the worse, because they will try it. Check toys and perches regularly for wear and snags. Safety first, always.
At least some part of the aviary should have a roof and two sides covered. Even if you give the birds a nest box, you need to provide a sheltered place larger than that. In my area, which is actually an inland desert valley, birds are fine if left outside year around. But they need to be able to get out of any wind and have shade in the summer. Being able to stay out of the rain is a plus, but some birds like to get out in the rain. Don’t worry, as long as they can get out of the wind when they get cold, they will dry and stay healthy.
How much room does an aviary need? I am a firm believer in more space than you think you need. So look at a really big cage for your type of bird, and double it. Then double it again.
Here is a nice-looking aviary constructed out of wood and small mesh hardware cloth. It’s a good size for finches, but if you put anything parrot-like in there, you will be checking for chewed wood parts all the time. http://www.instructables.com/id/Walk-in-Bird-Aviary/?ALLSTEPS
And a bigger one, again with wooden poles. http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/factsheets/Pets-Pet-Care-and-Native-Animals/Building-an-Aviary/1867
BirdTricks people are a lot of fun, and here’s their take on building an aviary, with links to the best priced materials they could find. http://www.birdtricks.com/blog/building-your-own-outdoor-aviary/
My aviary is made from walls, floor, and roof plus door that were all purchased and then we assembled it. KW Cages sells the same or similar stuff. http://clover.forest.net/kwcages/index.html After we built the aviary with the parts we had, we decided to add an airlock, and found a smaller aviary which suited the purpose perfectly. We bought it used at Magnolia Bird Farm. They often have used cages and aviaries. http://www.magnoliabirdfarms.com/
Just what will your aviary look like? Your yard size will probably determine where you will set it and what will it end up looking like. Will you have a water fountain or pond inside? A few plants? Put it around a tree? Here are some photos of possibilities. http://www.weld-mesh.com/animal-cages/aviary
I hope that gives you some fun ideas and dreams. I’ll see you on Wednesday for more fun with things with wings!