How It All Began
by Jill McLeod
My daughter told us that we needed a "Hobby", the gardens were done, the house painted and we found ourselves RETIRED watching the grass grow.
I had a birthday coming up so my request was for a "pair of those little blue birds" and a bird cage. Little did I know what it would lead to, I mean how much trouble can you get into with one pair of birds, I thought, so off we went to the pet shop and came home with our first pair of Cordons.
The problems began when we saw all those other birds in the shop. Oh I have to have a pair of those too, and do not forget those ones. We left the pet shop with more birds than we had bargained on or budgeted for.
Now instead of a bird cage we definitely needed an aviary, so my husband set about building one that would house the birds on the back patio, only a small one, because we were not going to get any more birds. Plan "A" lasted for about a week and a half when we brought our first pairs of Gouldians, gave them a nest box and they went straight to work.
Things were getting a little crowded in there, so we went to Plan "B" and built 5 adjoining aviaries along the edge of the patio. I had no difficulty filling them up as we had a friend that was going out of Gouldians for a while so we bought some of his birds. They were good birds too, line bred to be true to colour, a chance not to be missed, so we kept telling ourselves, but now we had another problem.
We could not extend any more so we decided to sell the house and build on a bigger block. We were fortunate that we could rent back our old house until the new one was finished. We had quite a mouse problem in the old aviaries. Even though we had vermin proof wire the little #$%@ still managed to get in, so in the new ones we have hopefully learned by our mistakes. My husband said "these are darned near bomb proof", which they have to be as we are now living in an area where there is both snakes and rats! We have the vermin proof wire everywhere, under the roof, under the sides and full concrete floors, 3" thick.
We built our aviaries out of the tiler's batten that was left over after the house was built and bought 60 metres of wire, which was not quite enough. We have painted the frame in undercoat and finishing coat (oil based, and haven't had a problem), then we put on the wire.
We allowed the concrete floor to have a fall of 40 degrees to the rear for drainage and then had an area of open wire at the back so that they can easily be hosed out. We painted the wire with a roller and just masked up the bits we did not want black.
Because we have concrete floors I came up with an idea to put some seeding grasses in those styrene veggie boxes in some potting mix and also added some seed to shoot, so now they are happy with their own garden to forage in. I have 2 sets of these so when they have chewed their way through the first lot the next is ready to put in. I also put in some potted natives and the enclosed area has a lot of cut brush for a natural effect. I had to come up with some unusual cleaning tools, like the paint scraper attached to a broom handle to scrape the floor, but it comes up as clean as a whistle!
These are the containers we use to keep the nesting material off the floor. We brought the white ones at one of those junk shops and I made the others out of wire.
These are the nesting boxes we use and they were readily accepted. I cannot take the credit for these as I found the plans on the web. We have tried ordinary nesting boxes in there too and they always choose these ones. The other photo is of my bird corner. I was really hoping for a "Bird Room" but this was the best I could get.
The racks and containers I use for mealies, grit, eggshell or anything else I need to put in. They are also useful for medication and are easily removed and washed. We bought them from the hardware store and their real use is for nails, screws, nuts and bolts, etc. Nevertheless, they are good in the aviaries and everything is up off the floor.
We now have quite a colony of Gouldians, all separated into their head colours, some Bengalese, some Zebs (good Zebs), some Red Stars, some Ruddies, some Orange Breasts, some Painted Firetails and I can't forget the Cordons. They all get on brilliantly together!
Weather wise, we get it very easy here in Queensland. Temperatures go down to about 7 deg in winter and most times in summer they rarely go beyond 35-36 degrees. I have not had to use any heat source other than the sun in winter and the sea breeze comes in most afternoons to cool things off in summer.
Well that is about it! This weekend we are off to the QFS sale in Brisbane and there are no prizes for guessing what we will come home with!