By Deb Lebeda
I started with Gouldian finches, like I'm sure most of you did, …with a cage that I thought was more then large enough. I had one pair per cage in 20 inch long cages. After having to clean all those cages I started to put 2 pair per 48 inch long cage. When I was breeding in full swing I had my husband build 5 walk in aviaries in the basement to hold all the fledglings. I guess it was while watching the juveniles socialize that I started to think maybe I wasn't doing the best by them. I noticed that they did everything together and I mean everything. If one went down to eat or drink, they all went down, and oh my, bath time was really something to watch. They always had a special perch to roost at night and all would line-up side by side together.
Having them in the basement really limited the amount of time I had to enjoy their antics and singing. I began to think that maybe I just wanted to enjoy the birds on a smaller scale. I have to say that was the best decision I made, it is now a hobby again and not so much work.
Having a husband that is a carpenter comes in very handy now and then, so I had him build an aviary in our solarium that fit in the corner of the room. All but the front is solid white board for easy cleaning. There is a 6 inch board running across the bottom in the front to keep in all the mess. We made a double door so that there would be plenty of room if I needed to get in there but for daily maintenance you would only need to go through the one door so there is less of a chance for escapees. The nest boxes were all hung at the same level so that there wouldn’t be any fighting over who had the best site. You can see the nestboxes lined up near the wall clock.
We originally had a wire top on the aviary so they could get all the sunlight available thru the glass ceiling of the solarium, but with hawks, falcons and larger birds flying over head they would get really freaked out. To give them a sense of security in the main aviary we changed the wire to a solid top. As is always the case we thought that our corner cage would be more then big enough. But as time passed I thought that they needed more room to fly, so we added an additional fly way for them to get some more exercise over the doorway. This was really an unused space in the solarium, and it just seemed like the perfect place to provide more flying room.
There is a hole in the top of the aviary with a sliding door to the fly way. If I need to catch up any birds I just close the door to keep them within reach inside of the aviary.
To make the flyway we took two shelves, attached them to each other at a 90° angle and mounted them on support brackets on the wall. One is the bottom and one is the back. We then attached wire, bending it to form the box. The wire is held in place with a strip of molding that can be removed for cleaning. There are no perches within the flyway so there really is very little cleaning necessary. While they are up there they are enjoying the pleasure of flying.