The aviaries available to bird fanciers are almost as varied as the types of birds found in the wild. They can range from simple and utilitarian to large and decorative. But not all aviaries are suitable for all birds. Understanding the basic types of aviaries available, and the advantages and disadvantages of each will help you keep your birds healthy and happy.
Aviaries can be classified by their basic architecture. Conventional aviaries are building-like enclosed cages built on the ground and can come in a range of shapes and sizes. They are generally large enough to walk into (these are the types of aviaries seen in zoos) and large enough to provide birds with sheltered areas for hiding and nesting and room to fly freely. Ideally, they should have cement flooring, which allows easy cleaning, prevents birds from burrowing their way out of the aviary and keeps animals, such as raccoons and snakes, from burrowing their way in.
Suspended aviaries are suspended off the ground and have flooring of wire mesh or other open material. They have the advantage of keeping birds from direct contact with their droppings and with discarded food since they fall through the aviary's flooring, providing a more sanitary environment. However, they are not suitable for all bird types. Because they are not as large as conventional aviaries, they don't allow hiding spaces for birds, particularly large ones, and may not provide enough space for larger or more excitable species.
Cantilevered aviaries combine the features of conventional and suspended aviaries. They have a conventional, ground-based section attached to an off-ground, suspended section. The suspended section gives the birds extra room for flight and resting, as well as providing the hygienic benefits of a completely suspended aviary.
Construction Considerations for Aviaries
Ideal materials for your aviary depends on your budget, the number and type (or types) of birds you are raising and the climate and environmental conditions of your area. Elaborate aviaries can be full-sized buildings with brick or wooden walls and standard roofing; like any other standard building, these are subject to local building codes.
If you plan to build an aviary in an area with extreme weather conditions, you need to have proper heating or cooling to keep your birds comfortable. Less elaborate aviaries have mesh or wire walls. Make sure these materials are thick enough that your birds can't chew their way through them.
While wood can be used in aviary construction, redwood and cedar should be avoided, since they release fumes dangerous to small birds. Make sure that your aviary is constructed with easy access to a water source such as an outdoor spigot for cleaning and providing drinking and bathing water, as well as access to electricity, if your aviary requires lighting or climate control. However, make sure your aviary has no exposed electrical wiring or electrical outlets - these could put curious birds at risk for electrocution.