How to Construct Your Own Large Toucan Aviary

Toucan Aviary (divided into three sections) for 3 toco toucans

These aviaries were specifically designed for three adult toco toucans. Toucans and parrots vary from their extremely different variations of diet to what they can play with and/or destroy. What works for toucans may not be safe and may not work for parrots.

Chrissann from Adventures in Toucanland was kind enough to share how she and her boyfriend David created their aviaries for their three toco toucans on a little island in the Caribbean.

Side view of aviary enclosures (look down to see dividers)

 Everyone is looking to not empty their wallets on an aviary for their bird – but so far, I’ve not come across any ‘cheap’ but also 100% safe aviaries. They cost a lot to make, they cost a lot to buy, they cost a lot even if you do it yourself. But, if you are a do-it-yourself-er, these blog posts are for you because they tell you how to do it.

If you’re like me, you can hop on over to CagesbyDesign and start saving up for one (order early, they make all their cages in-house now and so it takes longer for you to receive them).

Toucan aviary

The following is all the information on these gorgeous enclosures for these toucans from Chrissann:

We built our aviaries specifically for Paco, Paz, and Pepe when we found out we were going to adopt them. David designed them and we had a couple of guys who have carpentry experience here at the resort actually build them under David’s supervision. With materials and labor, we estimate that it cost around $15,000 to build. Keep in mind that the costs would vary for people, based on their location. We live in the Caribbean where EVERYTHING has to be shipped in, which in turn, makes everything here VERY expensive.

Our main considerations when building the aviary were:

–      That it would be solid enough to withstand heavy storms (not necessarily with the birds inside though!), as we live in the Caribbean, a hurricane zone

–      That it would be aesthetically-pleasing, as it would take up a large amount of space in the resort’s tropical garden

–      That it would give the toucans plenty of space to move about, as they are high-energy birds that require much more space than a parrot of equal size

–      That it would offer protection from the hot Caribbean sun, as well as protection from our human visitors

–      That it would be easy to keep clean

We chose the location because it offered some protection from the wind, which can get strong sometimes, by the side of one of our existing buildings. The aviary is also in a space that we were able to section off with another existing retaining wall and by building in a railing, as the aviary is outside, in a public space of the resort and we don’t want visitors to be able to touch or give the toucans anything potentially harmful.

Adult toco toucan within aviary enclosure (wire mesh)

The cage is built out of wood and 1″ x 1″ wire mesh. The one thing we did not have to worry about with toucans was the specific kind of wood/wire, as they do not have the ability or desire to chew. We designed in tall ceilings with a peaked roof to provide more space and the end peaks were left open and simply covered in mesh to provide airflow. Each section of floor is separated by 8″ poured concrete to make cleaning simpler and protect the wood spacers from rotting. We built the doors to swing inward and put latches on the inside, padlocks on the outside. We also added wood nails halfway up for additional support for perches.

To give the structure strength against storms, we used stainless steel bolts to tie the floor, walls, and roof together. We also added hurricane clips to secure the roof down. For the foundation, we dug footings when pouring the concrete floor to ensure plenty of anchorage.

For perches, we used branches we cut down from our almond tree, which has not been sprayed with pesticides. Toucans like lots of perches, as they are big hoppers. We built shelves in each aviary corner for their water bowls, as toucans need large pans to be able to dip in their entire beak and to bathe in.

I think one of the best features of the aviary that I cannot recommend enough was our decision to lay concrete floors with drains. They are extremely easy to hose out every morning and allow us to keep the mess and bugs under control. I think bugs would be a much bigger problem if it were rocks or just a dirt bottom. The concrete stays clean and can even be scrubbed down with mild dish soap to keep any potential bacteria under control. The drains were a bit easier for us, as we already had an existing pipe beneath the structure. For someone who doesn’t have existing piping nearby, I would suggest still putting in drains in a corner, where water can be pushed out of the aviaries. Drains are a MUST for your own cleaning sanity!

To give the toucans protection from the elements as well as wandering people at nighttime, we added large, roll-down canvas covers on three sides of the aviary. I lower them just after sunset each evening, then raise them at daybreak, to ensure the birds can experience sunrise. They seem to enjoy it as a bedtime ritual, as they are always ready to tuck in for the night and say goodbye to the visitors watching them. To secure the canvas covers, we mounted tie-down hardware at multiple levels that secures the covers from flapping in the wind. It has also proven necessary on several occasions to be able to lower the covers down mid-way during days of intense weather.

Also, because the aviary is in a public space, we had signage made to communicate their names, a species info sign, a no feeding sign, and a no smoking sign. All of the plants that we put up around the aviary are non-toxic. To allow the birds more space and freedom of movement inside the aviaries, we did not put any plants inside.

As with anything, we have had some learnings and there are definitely some things we would do differently, if we were to build it all over again. They are:

–      Figure out a way to allow in more sunlight – in the beginning, we were so concerned with protecting them from our intense sun, that we put on a solid roof (completely leak-free, I might add!), but now I wish they had a small sunroof or something to allow more sunshine inside consistently. Toucans love sunbathing so much and while they definitely still get sun from the sides each day, depending on the time of year, I think they would like even more hours with sun as an option to soak up.

–      Place the drain in a corner, not in the center. We placed our drains in the center of each aviary, due to the location of the existing pipe beneath, but I think it would be even easier to clean if you could hose straight to a corner, rather than shuffling it around to go down the center drain.

–      Build in a catch. We made the decision to not include a catch, due to space limitations. We decided that we would rather they have more constant space in their aviaries, rather than the rare time we would need a catch. I still have not had any situations where it would have been necessary (they have good door manners and don’t wish to fly out on their own), though it would still provide me with peace of mind in the rare pet sitting scenarios. If you have the space, I’d definitely suggest you include one.

–      Build in a way to change their food bowls from the outside, instead of having to go in the aviary. While it is no big deal for us to go inside the aviaries to feed the birds and we use it as training and socialization time, I do wish we had included an option to access the bowls without entering the aviaries for anyone pet sitting. It doesn’t happen often, but is sure would be easier if that was an option (especially considering how aggressive Paco can be to others).

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Chrissann offers private behavioral consultations for the furred and feathered in the British Virgin Islands. She is passionate about applying the science of behavior to animal training and has received the following training certificates; “Behavior Apps: Training with Art and Science”, Certificate of Excellence from Natural Encounters Inc, “Living and Learning with Parrots – The Science and Technology of Behavior Change” and Certificate of Excellence from Behavior Works.

1 comment


I would deff not recommend chicken wire…. if you look way back on the bird tricks face book blog they have tips for building a parro aviary….. its not very cheep but if you use chicken wire there is a good chance you will have eaither a pretty sick bird or a loose one… there is also a blog on how to build a playstand with pvc & I just made a few huge jungle gym ones & added toys & drilled holes to make some wooden perches & I have a huge screened in porch, my birds are pretty well behaved so I let the play on them & fly back & forth on them but only when I’m out there too so I can keep an eye on them & you can expand them as you have more money to spend on them & I have a few that fit inside too so they have like there own jungle in there bird room when I can’t watch em & they can get a lil exercise with out me watchin there ever move….. you might have to go back quite a ways for both entries but some really good advice!


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