If you are a bird owner who is looking to expand the number of birds you own, you may be thinking about setting up an aviary to house your birds. Aviaries can be very attractive additions to an apartment, home, or yard, and the birds can be great company. Just remember an aviary can be a lot of work — birds are notoriously messy creatures! Multiple birds can also create a lot of racket, so you’ll want to take neighbors and fellow residents into consideration.
Once you have made the big decision, you’ll want to choose the appropriate birds for your preference, and you will want the birds to be compatible with each other.
Many birds can make quite a racket, and you’ll want to choose your birds with your sound preferences in mind as well as the proximity of your neighbors. Noisier birds are conures, cockatoos, Amazons, macaws, and Quaker Parakeets, to name a few. Smaller birds like cockatiels, lovebirds, canaries and finches are not very loud even in numbers. Some birds can pick up bad habits of others if housed nearby each other. A cockatiel can start screaming like a large parrot, for instance. You’ll want to keep this in mind when choosing your birds.
A major consideration in your choice of birds should be size. You may have seen colorful aviaries displaying all sizes and types of birds, but although they may be pleasing to your eye, the birds are probably not enjoying themselves very much. Birds in an aviary should be of a similar size. Small birds are terrified of larger birds, even if the larger birds may be gentle with them. Larger birds will dominate the cage, while smaller ones will be continually seeking shelter from them. If you want active, healthy and happy birds, you won’t want to house a finch or canary with parrots. These small birds can not be housed even with parakeets, as the hooked bill birds can hurt the little birds should they become aggressive.
Along with size, the temperament of birds should be considered. For instance, it isn’t advised to house cockatiels with parakeets, because parakeets are generally feistier and have been known to go after the cockatiels unmercifully. However, parrots of a mild temperament can be housed with cockatiels. Many new aviary owners don’t realize that even colors that are too similar can cause confusion and aggression among birds who are living together.
It’s better to introduce your aviary birds all at the same time. A pair of each type of bird is best. More than one pair encourages competitive and aggressive behavior. Allow a couple of feet of room for every bird. A rule of thumb for bird owners is “a foot per bird.” Make sure there is space for each pair to roost in away from the other birds when they want to be by themselves. Enough plant cover for each family or pair of birds is the best idea, so that if problems do develop between birds, they can escape until you’ve investigated and resolved the problem.
No matter what kind of birds you have, they almost always become more aggressive during breeding. You should be prepared with other temporary housing you can use for a breeding pair.
Aviaries require a lot of supervision, to make sure problems are not arising. Sometimes starting an aviary can be quite an experiment, and you should watch for signs daily of incompatibility, such as birds chasing each other, picking fights, and pecking at each other.
You’ll have to be certain there are plenty of food and water sources in the aviary. With several birds and only one or two food and water containers, you are bound to get dominant birds “ruling the roost.” The less fighting over supplies, the better!
In short, aviary building is both a science and a creative art. You may wish to consult your local breeder or pet store to find out all you can before you embark on this adventure. Enjoy your birds!