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Down Memory Lane
By Natalie

When I was eleven years old my father and I built an 8x12x8 foot aviary. We housed a variety of finches, a pair of Peking Robins, button quail and a pair of hanging parrots. I went out to the aviary daily, sat in a chair and watched my birds. I loved observing their mating calls and I enjoyed feeding them mealworms from my hand. Years later, I sold all my birds and moved away to attend college. In 2007, my father tore down the aviary that I once enjoyed as a child. Although I am now married, a mother of a toddler, and living away from my parents, I still felt sentimental about the thought of never housing birds again in my old aviary.

It was because of this sentiment that I decided to purchase a pair of Lady Gouldian finches in November of 2008. I owned a pair as a child, but housed them indoors. Although my new Gouldians were bred in an outdoor aviary, I have been keeping them in a 3x2 foot cage indoors. My plan was to design and build an outdoor aviary and move them into it during the summer months of 2009. I live in Southern Orange County, California and have heard of several people keeping these beautiful finches successfully outdoors year-round.

Thanks to the internet and a couple of books I found some different aviary photos. From these, I took my favorite ideas and put them to paper. I also took into consideration the needs of my Gouldians and the future birds I wanted to house. I settled on a 4-foot wide by 7-foot long by 6-foot tall design. I planned the aviary to be constructed in 8 panels. Two 4-foot panels, one for each side, and six smaller panels, three for the front and three for the back. I used panels for two reasons, one so I could build them in my garage and then move them outside to the aviary location easily, and two so if we ever moved, we could take my aviary with us.

I began construction in April 2009. I could only work for a couple hours a day since I have a toddler and only had free time during her naps. I first cut all the redwood 2x2s to the correct sizes. I used deck screws to construct the panels so they would not rust during rain. I predrilled to make things easier and to avoid splitting the wood. Once the panels were constructed I stained and sealed the wood. I did it for the birdís health as well as mine as I didnít want to breathe in fumes while I stained and sealed. Once the panels were dry, I stapled and hammered on the wire mesh. I also cut and added the plywood on three of the panels as well as an internal wall I created to make a draft free area.

I used a combination of 12x12 inch cement stepping stones and bricks to make a floor to set my aviary on. I had heard that dirt could breed unhealthy bacteria. I also thought this might be a way to keep unwanted critters out. After setting the stones and bricks on the dirt I began piecing the aviary panels together. For these last few steps I got my husband and two family friends to help.

We added the roof at the end. We used 2x4 pieces of wood cut at an angle to create a slight slope for rain. We attached 6 of these along the width of the aviary. We then added mesh and then clear corrugated plastic for rain protection. I picked this up from Home Depot.

At the last minute I decided to paint the wire mesh black with an acrylic paint. I taped the wood and used a roller to paint the front and side view panels. I painted from the inside while my friend painted from the outside this made it easy to repair drips. The black paint made a huge visual difference and was well worth the effort. If I could do it over again I may have painted the wire before attaching it to the panels thus avoiding getting any paint on the wood.

When the construction was done the fun part began. I had a large branch from a Manzanita tree that I cut into pieces and added in different areas of the aviary for perches. I added three nest boxes, various feeders, a small potted Ficus tree, and a hanging basket with orchids. I placed sand on top of the cement stepping stones for easy cleanup.

I am very pleased with the overall aesthetics of my aviary. Now that the construction is complete I plan to house a couple pairs of Lady Gouldians, a pair of Cordon Blue and a pair of Scarlet Chested Parakeets. The parakeets are already in the aviary while I am waiting for my Gouldians to complete their molt before putting them in. I plan to add a few more perches and next boxes prior to adding the finches.

I am thrilled that my husband supported me on this project and that my daughter will grow up having the opportunity to enjoy an aviary. My Family and I love to spend time looking at the birds. I am eager to get my Gouldians in their new home and will hopefully purchase another pair soon.

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