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Bringing birds up close; these outdoor aviaries are sociably near decks and patios.

Designed for viewing, these three outdoor aviaries show sensible, enjoyable ways to house pet birds. Rather than isolate them in cages where they would rarely be seen or heard, these California structures, designed as integral parts of outdoor living areas, keep birds sociably close to decks and patios. A porch swing to enjoy the singing In Whittier, Priscilla and Michael McClure chose to build their aviary in their property's best location for birds-under trees in the southwest corner of their garden, next to an 8-foot wall. The birds thrived, but the McClures discovered they had little interaction with them except at feedings. They couldn't bring the birds closer to the house, so they built a deck around the aviary (see photograph above). "Now the deck provides an intimate setting, where we can relax and enjoy the birds," says Mr. McClure. Patio aviary for indoor/outdoor viewing Taking advantage of a patio overhang, Martha and Manuel Coronado of Citrus Heights tucked their aviary part way under its eave This shelters the aviary and also makes it an intimate part of their living area. In the Sacramento Valley, some winters can be nippy. "When it's cold," says Mrs. Coronado, "we cover the north and south sides with plastic and plug in a covered electric light to warm our birds." Freestanding aviary, viewing deck In Santa Rosa, Carol and Bill Dickinson put an aviary off an existing deck (see photograph at near left) so they could watch their birds-doves, canaries, and finches-and listen to their songs. "It's like a symphony when they all sing together." Two dead madrones support the aviary's roof beam. Branches, secured into holes drilled in the trees' trunks, form perches. The front, part of the sides, and about a third of the roof are open for viewing; the rest of the structure is shingled. Some practical hints For advice on choosing birds, see page 122. And be sure to check local building codes before you build an aviary. Choose your site carefully. It should be warm in winter but not an inferno in summer. A wind-protected south or southeast exposure is best. In hot inland areas, provide afternoon shade. Dimensions. Small birds such as cockatiels and finches need room to fly. Make cages longer than wide-at least 5 feet wide and 10 feet long is best. Heights are usually 6 to 9 feet. Foundation. Use concrete blocks, footings, or posts, or lay a concrete slab. If burrowing rodents are a problem, set a sheet-metal or wire-mesh barrier 18 to 24 inches deep around the foundation. Floor. A concrete slab is easiest to clean (make sure it drains). For an aviary with plants, cover soil with sand, gravel, or wood shavings. Change shavings regularly; hose down sand and gravel. Framing. Wood is commonest (use nontoxic paint or stain), but steel or plastic tubing also works. Cover the frame with 1/2-inch aviary wire or 16-gauge welded wire mesh (12-gauge for large birds). Shelter. Protect birds from direct sun, rain, and wind by covering a section of the roof and part of the sides with wood or fiberglass (if weather is hot, cover fiberglass with shadecloth). To keep birds from pecking through wood, cover the inside of the aviary with mesh. Keep sheltered area light, or birds won't use it. Doors. To prevent escapes, plan a 3-foot-square vestibule" with two doors that swing in-one from the outside and one to the aviary. Enter and close the outside door before going into the aviary.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1989
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