Photo by Dave Location: Centralia, WA Outside on a foraging tree: Blue and gold macaw "Tiko"
I’m an AVID believer in supplying your bird with real sunlight that only an outdoor aviary can provide, however, “aviary rules” are different based on where you live. How often your bird can even use one is dependent on the weather wherever you live, and whether or not you need to worry about predatory birds, rodents or disease is also dependent on where you’re located and where your aviary is located and how it’s built. Many aviaries you buy online don’t come with floors, so you either have to put them on pavement or cement, cement blocks, or put them on dirt or sand but dig down deep and put wire mesh (raccoon proof for predatory rodents that try to dig their way into aviaries) deep enough and wide enough around the aviary that animals can’t dig their way in. This is especially necessary if you’re planning on leaving your birds in the aviaries to sleep overnight as most of these animals prey on animals at night when they can see and the prey cannot. Keeping parrots in aviaries at night poses a lot of risks as I’ve heard of raccoons, opossums and foxes tearing chickens out piece by piece from enclosures where they could just barely reach in. It’s a horrible thought, which is why you should know your area and surrounding animals that might pose a risk to your birds. I have a friend in Virginia who has 3 large parrot aviaries set up on grass with concrete blocks for proper leveling. She didn’t dig under because she has guardian dogs all over her property, as well as breeds dogs so let’s just say... there’s no shortage of guards around her place! They don’t get any rodents as the dogs kill anything they see. So the wire mesh didn’t pose being necessary for her to do with her aviaries, however, because of the climate there, she can only keep her birds out seasonally as it will get too cold for them outside. So her main predator is weather. Another friend of mine lives on her own private island in the Bahamas. With her aviaries because she didn’t want to have to bother with digging in sand, they laid down cement and placed the aviaries on top of the cement so they wouldn’t have to worry about rodents that may inhabit the island. Though they haven’t come across any, nor are there any wild birds there either so her birds are able to fly freefly around the island, and come into the aviaries to sleep at night safely away from snakes or things that might be on the island, just never spotted. Our aviaries are on our lawn, however underneath is sand and black tarps that seem to do the job where we are in Florida. We’ve never noticed any wild birds hanging around our birds, nor any rodents aside from squirrels. Before putting our birds in the aviaries though, we put rat/mouse traps and poison all over the yard to see if they were there and ward them off from being there. Our biggest concerns with opossums and raccoons... neither of which we’ve had any spotting of but want to remain aware. With our toucan, we noticed she would get bit in the face (they have soft skin around the eyes and nostrils) by mosquitos so we would not leave her out at night to sleep like the others, who seemed never to get bit (macaws, cockatoos, greys). Having an aviary is all around learning of your surroundings and when you go in for your exam yearly with your vet, ask them what’s around and what they’ve heard of having issues with in yards in your area so you can best provide for your birds.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.