Grant's "Picture Perfect" Aviary
My father introduced me to Gouldian Finches. Dad had been breeding Budgerigars, Grass Parrots, Bourkes Parrots, etc. for many years as a backyard hobby. Each time he needed a new aviary, he built one and we all helped in the construction. Everything was built from scratch. Dad was boss - an experienced wood worker and cabinetmaker for 20 years and he knew all the tricks!
A few years ago he started keeping Gouldian finches and has bred these little birds with great success. I myself had been living overseas for 4 years and had not had the ability to keep birds until now.
The environment in Melbourne, Australia is quite a mild one. The winters rarely drop below freezing, even at night, and the summers are hot and pretty dry, with low humidity. In summer it can often reach over 40 Celsius (104F) for a few days in a row. All in all it's a good temperate zone without the extremes to worry about. Good for Gouldians that are acclimatised to the lower, southern winter temperatures.
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
Gouldians require as much sunlight and warmth as they can get. So after six separate aviary designs and my wife’s approval a suitable location was found and construction began. As it was only being built on weekends, it took six months to complete.
The overall aviary dimensions are; 4.3m (13ft) long by 2m (66in) deep by 2.4m (8ft) high. I used an area that faced NNW, which collected 100% winter sun and nearly all summer sun. The rear of our block is bordered with a 4-foot tall, brick retaining wall and I wanted to incorporate it into the aviary. This also meant a gain of some 14 inches for flight space very nice. The top of the retaining wall is also where I place the seed dishes, etc. No bending over is required when cleaning or changing seed.
Another important point to remember in any aviary is the height. I wanted full size doors for my own easy access no bending down but more importantly, the birds would not have to fly out of the way each time I entered. They have a clear flight path, including perches, above me at all times.
The whole aviary, roof included, is lined with heavy gauge wire. All the wire is rectangular 25mm x 12mm (1in by .5in) and painted black.
As for doors, I had to have a safety door or double door design as my entry. There is no point risking the escape of such valuable birds. Of course this meant I lost some flight area inside the aviary a fair compromise. At least I can sleep nights!
Another major design component of the aviary was an idea that I got from Paul from My Gouldian Aviary. It was his help and advice, with regards to the enclosed end, that really made it work. Many thanks Paul. The birds use it almost every night. I don’t need to coax them. It is accessible via a 1.7m (5ft6in) door for my own access and a small 15cm by 22cm (6in by 9in) sliding door opening for the Gouldians. It is operable from outside the aviary.
I made the choice of using treated pine timber because it would not rot. I chose a solid size of 75mm by 50mm (2x3in) for all the major uprights. All of the outer frame uprights are concreted in to a depth of 45cm (18in). I also laid concrete slabs at the safety door entry and in the enclosed end, to allow sure footing and easy cleaning.
The roof frame is made from 75mm by 35mm dressed pine. The roof is fully covered with smoke coloured, corrugated laserlite sheeting. The ceiling in the enclosed end, which is 1m (3ft 4in) wide and 2m (6ft 6in) deep, is completely sealed with timber as well as the clear roofing.
It is very warm in winter and stops all drafts. I covered the internal walls, enclosed-end access door and external windows with clear, flat, Perspex sheet that I had cut to size. Depending on the heat during summer this may need modification.
The rear, brick wall is painted in a light and fresh mint colour, which really helps bring out the natural colours of birds and grasses, rocks, logs, etc.
The entire floor area is layered with 20mm white pebble, with a natural earth base below. This allows me to wash it down without leaving mud and also allows the planting of real grasses and trees, of which there are a few. Excess bird seed germinates everywhere and the birds love it. I have placed a couple of logs and large rocks on the ground for easy perching when they come down to drink. They sun themselves there regularly.
Directly over the water dish, 2.4m above, I have a small PVC tube that protrudes through from the outer roof into just past the wire below. Every time it rains it drips nicely and evenly into the water below. They like to sit nearby and get a splash sometimes! Having the water dish on the ground is a good idea because it forces the birds to fly around a lot and gives them more exercise.
DIET AND CARE
Their diet is made up of various seeds including Millet, Rape, Niger, Panicum and Canary, etc. They also have charcoal, cuttlefish, shell grit and a dirt dish at all times and I often give lettuce and spinach. I use apple cider vinegar and Aviclens in their water as well as Soluvet and Calcivet, especially when moulting and breeding. We also worm them every couple of months for good measure.
I have provision for 4 nest boxes in the aviary, 2 in the outside flight and 2 in the enclosed end. At the moment, all other breeding is done at Dads place as he has more aviaries. At present, there are 12 Gouldian Finches in the aviary with the final number to be set at approximately 20. I want to avoid overcrowding. I will see how things go.
That’s our new aviary and we love it. We hope you like it too!