After years of trying to come up with the perfect solution for housing my birds, and a few failed attempts at creating a walk-in aviary, I've finally found a simple solution to MY housing problems.
Because I am owned by a cat and dog (as well as my many birds), I wanted to have my cages up off the floor at about eye level. This would allow me to easily sweep seed hulls and other debris from under the cages, wash the floor at will, and protect my birds from my larger animals. Eye level is also grand when it comes to cleaning cages unless you have a cage with small upper main doors.
After much trial and error trying to build shelves to put the cages on, I stumbled across some hanging shelf brackets and the gears started grinding in my wee brain. At first I tried to put shelves on the brackets...that didn't work, I couldn't find deep enough shelves, and the "ONE" I did build myself caught all the seed and droppings that fell from the cage - too much more mess! Then I tried to put the cages on the brackets themselves without a shelf beneath them. That worked out okay, but I had removed the grates from most of my wire cages and they had little support once I removed the trays for cleaning. I liked the idea of the brackets. No mess, no fuss, and a LOT less cleaning! So I went about trying different configurations and came to the best solution for me - literally HANG the cage from the shelf brackets! It works like a charm and allows me to clean and sweep with ease!
Outfitting a Room
As with any other room of your home, your bird room should have the same items you would need for an average cage. You might also like to keep full spectrum lighting if there is not enough natural light coming in from windows. You may want a humidifier or air cleaner to keep down dust and dander and keep the humidity levels slightly higher to help keep skin and feathers in peak health. See the Accessories and Optional Equipment links for more information!
A Room of Their Own
So you've decided on a room for your birds. You'll now need to decide if you'll cage your birds or allow them to fly free - or a combination of both (preferable).
Keeping birds in a room of their own helps to contain the mess and allows you to monitor or spend time with your birds in one easy location. You'll want to make sure you've given them enough room, so if they are caged, the minimum cage sizes still apply.
If you'll be allowing them to fly free, you'll want to make sure you cover windows with something that will stop the birds from flying into them. Simply placing blinds on the windows can reduce this hazard tremendously, but blinds - like any window covering - can block natural light and become a tangle hazard. The idea is to break up the solid window glass with something so that the birds don't think it is open air. I have used wooden frames and stapled chicken wire and/or hardware cloth to them. I have also used blinds. Even a few pieces of colored masking tape across the window will help. Whatever you choose, be sure it is "bird safe", meaning it is nothing they can get tangled in yet still breaks up the pane of glass so they don't think they can fly through.
You'll want to make sure any doors are closed (closets, entry doors, cupboards, etc.) and if you are allowing your birds to fly free, you won't accidentally step on one or pinch it in the door when you enter or exit the room. A roll-up screen over the entry door can be attached with velcro and allow you to leave the door open, yet contain your birds. I have also used those pretty "bead doors" the teenagers are so fond of to keep my birds in their room. The beads sway gently and keep the birds wary. They won't try to escape through this!
SETTING UP A BIRD ROOM
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
Here I've given you an idea of how I house my birds and maintain their surroundings. Again, this is merely how I manage MY flock! If something works better for you, do not change it...send me a note and tell me how you keep YOUR birds! I'll post it in the "tips" section of this website!
Please note - we've had an aviary remodel since this article was written. See our Social Media pages to view the new setup! Your first decision should be whether to give your birds an entire room, or a portion of a room in your house. Or, if you want to build an outdoor enclosure, you need to find a location that offers partial shelter from the sun and weather and keeps other critters such as mice, rats, possums and raccoons out of their enclosure.
I can get two - and in some cases three - cages on a 60" wall unit with room for light fixtures in between, and I use 12" brackets to hang the cage. I'd really prefer longer brackets, but was unable to find anything longer at the time I purchased these. The above photos show how I hung the cage and secured it.
NOTE: MAKE SURE YOUR CAGES ARE ASSEMBLED CORRECTLY BEFORE TRYING THIS! MANY WIRE CAGES FALL APART IF NOT PROPERLY ASSEMBLED!
I realized that it was also helpful after centering the cage and hanging it, to mark the cage bars and wall supports with a permanent marker so when I took them down for cleaning I'd know which bars to slip the brackets through! Experiment with what works for you!
This sneaky girl has conserved on space while giving each cage optimum lighting. I literally laid the light for each cage on top of the cage itself, making sure it is centered over the brackets and as far back against the wall as possible. I push them all the way to the back of the bracket, directly over the inside back of the cage, to allow the birds to get out of the minimal heat the lights put out if they need to.
If your birds do not receive sunshine, they DO night light. If they do not receive full spectrum lighting, they MUST have a calcium supplement containing vitamin D3 to aid in calcium absorption.
Due to flood damage, we've been forced to entirely demolish and remodel the aviary. Reconstruction began in March 2017. We're almost done, almost done, almost done! We'll share the updated room as soon as it is complete!
The end result
Remember, no matter how you set your birds up, it is important that it works for YOU and YOUR BIRDS! This setup works for me because I have a spare room to use, but your birds could be housed in your living space, a bedroom, or even a sun room. Just take into consideration environmental factors potential dangers when setting them up. If you find your setup isn't working, change it!