An Indoor Bird Room
Many people who are interested in keeping birds as pets do not like the idea of keeping them in small cages. The solution for those who have the finances is setting up a bird room. A bird room is an indoor aviary where the birds have flight space; and the mess of food, droppings, and dander can be contained more efficiently. Bird rooms can vary in size according to the needs of the species you keep and size of your house. These rooms can be set up purely for function or they can combine function with aesthetics. Here are some points to consider if you wish to set up a functional bird room that looks good too.
Location and Size
Birds need natural light, however, many are very sensitive to cold, especially drafts. Because of this the location of your bird room should allow for a couple of South or Southeast facing windows (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere) to allow some natural sunlight in without being too cold. These windows should be draft free. If you can not afford to install draft free windows you can not afford to build a bird room. If possible replace existing windows with glass blocks that allow in natural light. In warmer locations access to an outside aviary may be considered. Do not attempt this is colder climates.
Inside of the house the location is dependent of the view of the bird room that you want to create for yourself. If you simply want a bird room to house birds that you sit in front of time to time, less design and construction work will be involved and less pleasure will be gained in the long run. Basements and attics are possible consideration for bird rooms. With basements you must consider the possibility of it being too damp and not having a good source of natural light. An attic may not have an adequate amount of insulation or natural light. Both basements and attics may also prove to be too obscure in location to derive enjoyment on a daily basis.
If you plan on making your bird room one of the focal points of your house this will require careful thought and planning on your part. A well placed bird room with large viewing windows can provide hours of enjoyment for the whole family. For this reason the location of the bird room should be one where the viewing window for the bird room is near one of the major sitting areas in your home. If done right a bird room can have the same beauty and appeal as an aquarium or fireplace.
The size of your bird room is dependent on the size of your home, how much space you want to allow for it, how many birds you wish to keep, the size of the birds you are going to keep. All of these must be considered from the start. If you ignore any of those details in your planning it you be negative for you, your family, and the birds. There is no reason to spend a lot of money on something that your most likely do not need and have a bad experience. The purpose of a bird room is purely to provide enjoyment and a healthy space for your birds.
When setting up any type of space for living creatures their needs and safety is of utmost importance. This include being able to keep their environment clean easily. The walls of the bird room should be free of any type of toxins. Keep it all basic for purposes of cleaning. Avoid wallpapers even though you may be tempted to have some type of scenic wallpaper on one wall. Plain white non-toxic paint is best for the walls of a bird room, unless you can afford tile or stone. The floors should be of either tile or linoleum. Wood and carpet will both be soon a harbor for all manner of nasty things and will be ruined.
The entry to the bird room should have some type of safety area (a double door system) to prevent escape of birds or intrusion by other household pets. A safety area is basically a system of two doors divided by a small space in which you go in one door close it and open the other door for entry into the room. A lock on the door itself my also be a good idea. You will want some type of storage compartments or closets with in the room for supplies and food. This will allow you to keep the opening and closing of the door to the outside world to a minimum, which also helps prevent escape or intrusion.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/exiter/2493018262/ European Goldfinch
Since birds produce a lot of dander you will want some type of air filtration system in the room. This is essential to the health of your family, both pets and people. Make sure you get the one with the highest HEPA rating possible that also handles pet dander. Another health factor for birds has to do with lighting. Although you have windows providing some natural light you will need to provide some artificial sources of light as well, especially during the winter months when there may be many gray days. There are many products on the market that provide supplemental lighting. Florescent and can be placed in fixtures in the ceiling and set on a timer to provide somewhat natural day to night time transitions. Be sure the lights are properly covered to prevent the birds getting at them.
The viewing window, or windows, should be shatter proof glass or Plexiglas. These are windows that show the bird room to the interior of the home. Shop around for windows that are going to be safe. The risk is not of the birds flying into the window. The risk is from cats, dogs, or children jumping or falling into the window. An alternative that is less aesthetically pleasing you may consider simply using ¼” to ½” wire mesh hardware cloth instead of a window. However, with wire mesh there is a danger of household cats climbing on it. If you plan to keep parrots they will destroy the mesh. Typically birds will not fly into the glass of their room, but a concerned owner may put small window stickers on the outsides of the windows to indicate to the bird that there is a window.
Small vents may be placed above the viewing window to allow the sounds of the birds to be heard outside. These optional vents can be simple cutouts into the wall covered with wire mesh and surrounded with moldings.
Feeding and Watering
Your feeding and watering systems can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. You may want to set up automatic watering systems in the bird room. This can either be done with the help of a plumber or by using gravity bird waterers. Another alternative for watering is purchasing a couple of garden fountains and placing them in the bird room. A watering system is a must or you will need to be watering your birds a few times a day by hand.
Your birds should also have a shallow open water dish for their use as a bird bath.
There are many products for holding your birds’ food. You can find these at pet stores or a garden centers. When purchasing the bird feeders for a bird room you will most likely be buying feeders similar to those used outside. Those little cups people place in bird cages just are not going to meet the need. Although, you will want to check on your birds everyday a good rule of thumb is to set things up so that in theory they could be left unattended for four or five days.
Also, it is a good idea to place wood shavings (aspen is best, pine second best, but never use cedar) on the floor to make clean up of food and droppings easier.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benimoto/2977354688/ Guira Cuckoos
You will want to have plenty of branches for the birds to perch on. The size of these branches will depend of the size of the birds. Larger birds require only larger branches and with smaller birds you can have a combination of branches, larger ones supporting smaller perching branches. You may want to include live plants as you would in an outdoor aviary. I would advise against this. There are many sources for good looking fake plants that will be safer for your birds and require less work on your part. The problem with live plants in finding ones the are safe for your birds to be in an enclosed space with and the care of those plants. Live potted plants need water and fertilizer to stay healthy. Live and fake plants may be placed surrounding the viewing window outside of the enclosure to give a jungle feel. You will also want to provide nesting boxes and possibly toys to provide interest for your birds. These can be found at pet stores.
How Many Birds Can a Bird Room Hold?
This is dependent on the type of bird and the size of the room. An 8′x10” bird room for example would be able to hold 10 to 15 pairs of small finches and a couple of pairs of button quail or it could house a pair of toucans. It could not house the finches, quail, and the toucans together. Do not house smaller birds with larger ones.
With proper finances, planning, and execution a person can create a showpiece bird room in their home that provides hours of enjoyment. It is an expensive endeavor, however, if your love of birds outweighs the costs it is well worth the investment.
Additional Reading for Bird Enthusiasts