Thursday, 20 October 2016

Aviary Maintenance

aviary cage
Keeping your aviary clean of debris and food-refuse is incredibly important to a successful aviary. It is far easier to do it regularly rather than try to play catch-up. For example, when was the last time you checked the fasteners on your nest boxes? When most parrots see a shiny wire, bolt head or screw, they begin to pick at it, twisting and chewing away the surrounding wood. I have seen African greys unfasten rather impressive bolts that have washers and nuts. You need to check all your nest boxes to ensure that the wood or fastener isn't going to give way soon. In regards to nest boxes, your best breeders are usually the best wood chewers as well. I know a breeder who lost a cockatoo hen that made him more than $10,000 a year from her unbelievable production. She chewed through the nest box, and he never noticed the growing hole, until his wonderful hen was sitting in a tree. He never caught her.

Nest Box/Cage Maintenance

Check the nest boxes by running your hand over the outsides and looking for holes inside and out. Remember, a small hole on the outside might indicate that a large amount of wood has been eaten on the inside, and the bird is ready to burst through. So, don't ignore the small holes. If there is a hole all the way through the wood, it is best to replace the nest box. Also, change the bedding if you haven't done so already.

Double-check your nest box-to-cage connections as well. Put some weight on them, because a strong wind might stress the connections. If you use tie strips, replace them. Tie strips break down if they are exposed to ultraviolet sunlight. Even though those tie strips might look fine now, given a month in the summer sun, they could give out.

Another rarely considered point of possible escape is from the use of J-clips. Some J-clips can rust or corrode even on cages that are less than 10 years old. Inspect each cage and pull on the cage wire, checking to see if the J-clips give or whether they are still good. If I notice any stress or rust on the clips, I fasten another clip right beside the worn clip. We lost one of our favorite babies that squeezed between the wire where two J-clips had rusted out. After it escaped, it took us several days to figure out how it had gotten out of the cage. The wire had formed itself back together, giving the appearance of structural integrity. That is why I strongly recommend physically pulling on the wire connections in separate directions so that you can see if the wire pulls apart.

Check your perches. If perches are chewed significantly and are unstable, birds will not breed. Obtain new perches and make sure they are affixed to the side tightly. If your birds quickly chew through 2- by 4-inch perches, consider the 2- by 6-inch size. I prefer fir; however, whatever you use, don't use treated wood. Go to the lumberyard and buy fresh. Don't pick up tree branches or lumber that you don't know the origins of.

I find many people just pile their old cages and refuse within the aviary. Throw old goods away. If you have cages you aren't going to use, then stack them neatly and as far away from your birds as possible. Piles of cages, with grass and weeds growing in them, make ideal residences for snakes. Get them away from your birds. If you have old pans or dishes, turn them over so they don't accumulate water. Otherwise, the stagnant water becomes a nesting ground for mosquitoes.

Food And Debris

Food or feces pile-ups should be turned over with a spade, covered up or removed. They attract disease-carrying rodents, flies and vermin. If you live in the city, allowing dung to build up will bring the health department down on you; likewise if you are in the country, it will invite predators.

Aviary maintenance isn't fun, and it is one of those things that quickly falls by the wayside when we get busy. But it is best to keep up with it, because the cost of letting your aviary go is lost birds.