By Cathy DeHaan
I imagine from a captive bird's perspective, the avian hobbyist or breeder houses it in too small and/or crowded of an enclosure, pays little attention to climate and air quality, provides poor to barely adequate lighting, feeds a deficient diet. We supply food and water in manufactured vessels, restrict mate selection in breeding circumstances, and offer limited nesting opportunities. We require our birds to adapt to these surroundings we've created and expect them to reproduce healthy offspring in consistent quantities.
Results worth the extra effort
We're attempting to do the reverse with our cage and flight designs at Twin Beaks® Aviary, by trying to adapt our habitats, as closely as possible, to that which our birds are accustomed to in their natural state. We take this even a step further by not only creating this type of environment in our larger flights, but in our smallest individual 3' cages, as well. The extra amount of work that goes into providing this atmosphere for our birds not only produces results as seen in the health of TBA's birds and their breeding results, but allows us the pleasure of viewing our feathered friends behaving almost as they would in their wild state.
Our aviary is indoors, where we breed year round in mixed flights and 6', 4' and 3' cages that house single pairs. All are individually lit with daylight balanced combo lights that house fluorescent, incandescent and black lights. The fluorescents provide a bright, cool, and inexpensive lighting. Perches are positioned under the incandescent lights to allow multiple birds' access to the warmth these bulbs provide. The 60 watt black lights are timer activated to go on at night, off in the morning.
All our flights and cages have live flora and trees added to an abundance of silk plants, vines, and branches. Each cage and flight has several water sources and a variety of seed feeders, both dishes and hanging tubes. Water is provided by ball-tipped, tube style bottles, shallow baths and working waterfalls and fountains. These require regular cleaning and maintenance, but are well worth the extra work, in my opinion. The sounds of the flowing water acts as a breeding stimulant. Misters run throughout our birdroom, and are programmed to go on and off several times a day. This is very beneficial for those birds that are not avid bathers, as well as the ones that are found in tropical climates.
Spray times are anticipated
and the flock Is already gathered,
ready and waiting
for their showers!
Search instincts satisfied
The cage flooring of choice is a mixture of meadow grass, alfalfa, timothy hay and aspen shavings. I find this to be fairly easily maintained, yet still keeping within our natural design guidelines. This type of covering provides additional nesting material, satisfies the bird's instinct to search for food and provides a more secure feeling when they are on the bottom of the larger enclosures. I can give it a good shake, allowing the debris to fall though to the bottom, keeping it clean between weekly changing.
In addition to their premium quality seed mixes, our birds are fed a diet of soaked seed, prepared eggfood bakery that we developed ourselves, and supplements that alternate daily for variety. They have constant access to fresh eggshell, minerals, ground cuttlebone and Herb Salad®, and are allowed to free-feed or choose their own intake.
Tied bundles of spray millet hang throughout all cages. Live foods provided include mealworms, white worms, crickets, ant eggs, maggots and fruit flies. We grow a variety of herbs e.g. cress, plantain, chickweed, etc. in pots that are often times sprinkled with flightless fruit flies.
We're working primarily with African waxbills, Australian finches, softbills, dove and quail. I also keep canaries, several small hookbills and parrots and a cockatoo as pets.
They're being so happy
and active is their way
" You're welcome! "
The first thing I hear when I awake in the Morning is the sound of singing birds... the wild ones outdoors mingling with those in our aviaries. I am eager to tend to them; this is my favorite part of the day! The extra work that goes into providing this environment for our flock is my way of saying "Thank you!". They're being so happy and active is their way of saying "You're welcome!"
© lady gouldian finch.com 2011