I want to show you how to make a large, walk-in, bird aviary for a fraction of what a similar one would cost in the marketplace. It is constructed in a modular fashion so you can make it as small as 4ft wide x 4ft long x 8ft tall or as large as your available space allows. The example that I give here is 4ft wide x 12ft long x 8ft tall.

However, before we get started, I beg your indulgence to let me explain what inspired me to build an aviary in the first place -- i.e. what sparked my interest in birds. (If you don't care, just skip ahead to step 1)

Throughout my life I had never given birds much of a second thought. I had no interest in hunting them, no interest in bird watching, and no interest in learning even the most rudimentary facts about them. Not that I was actively avoiding them or anything, I just never noticed them at all.

All that changed one 4th of July afternoon.

I went fishing, with a friend of mine, to a small Lake near the town I live. The reason we went fishing is because there were thousands of people in town for a big 4th of July parade and neither of us are that big on being around thousands of people. I brought my little expandable fishing pole and a single red and white hook. The expandable pole is nice because you can carry it around in your pocket until you need it, then telescope it out and fish!

So my buddy and I were walking around the lake on a bike/walking trail and we stopped part way along to fish. I caught two Pike one after the other almost immediately. The first one was a nice one (I threw it back anyway) and the second one was too small -- but he had swallowed the hook all the way down. Luckily I had removed the barbs from my hook and so with some delicate oral surgery I was able to remove the hook without damaging the fish and it happily swam away.

Anyway, we finished up the fishing and started walking back down the trail to the truck when I spotted a tiny little baby bird on the trail. I was not sure what kind of bird it was at the time since it was extremely young and I don't know jack squat about birds. It was also unclear whether it was male or female -- something I have since come to realize is not at all easy to determine. At first it looked dead, but upon closer inspection I saw the little chest heaving slightly. There was no nest or mother anywhere in sight. It looked like the bird must have hopped, or tumbled, a long way down the hill to the trail. I knew that if I left the bird where it was it would be dead within an hour or two at most, so I picked it up and took it with us. When we got to the truck, my buddy lined the drink cup holder with grass and I placed the little baby bird in there and covered it with my hat. By the time we got to town the bird was chirping like crazy. I'm no expert, but it sounded like hunger. It turns out (internet search) that birds that age need to eat every 15 minutes! So we quickly got over to a pet store and picked up a small cage and a jar of baby bird food (since it is unlikely I would be able to round up enough masticated worms to keep the little guy fed).

I spent the entire afternoon feeding the bird until it fell asleep at around 8:00pm and I was finally able to run to the fireworks store and grab a bunch of fireworks so I could go to a friends place and light them off all night (just like everyone else does here on the 4th of July.) The entire sky is lit with them for miles around for 4 or 5 solid hours and almost every backyard has fireworks going up (which is a nice aspect of living in the west).

After going to bed very late that night (actually the following morning if you want to know the truth) I woke up at 5:45am because the little bird needed feeding... and every 15 minutes thereafter... which continued until dark again that night..... I have sooo much respect now for mommy and daddy birds. They are kept running all day every day on continual trips back and forth getting food for all those hungry gaping mouths.

I named the little girl/guy Aristarchus.

You need to use a syringe to feed him/her. You approach his mouth until he begins to gape, then you stick the syringe down his throat and squeeze some food in there. You continue until he stops gaping (See the photographs and mpeg video, sorry about the video quality).

Actually the goal is to fill up the bird's crop which is a little storage area for food on the way to the stomach (see the anatomical diagram).

As he got bigger I became fairly convinced that little Aristarchus is a White-throated Sparrow, although I am still not totally sure. Also I have found a perfect mixture for food which is a lot cheaper than using the stuff from the pet store. Take dry cat food (high protein and fat content) and soak it in water over night so that it is mush. Then mix it in with the bird formula that I discussed above until the resulting consistency is close to that of yogurt or oatmeal. The little guy/gal loves it and his/her excrement is darker and less watery. Anyway, the bird is happy and healthy and you don't have to keep buying so much bird formula.

Eventually, I decided that the tiny little cage that I had originally bought from the pet store was not going to work. I needed something that would allow Aristarchus to learn how to fly so that I could eventually release him back into the wild before it is time to migrate.

So I decided to build Aristarchus an aviary....

Step 1: Materials

I spent a day or so thinking about how to go about building the thing. What size should I make it? Maybe it should be big enough so that if I get more birds I won't have to expand it. What materials should I use? What shape should it be? Where should I put it when it is finished so that I can use it in both summer and winter? It should be modular and easy to assemble, disassemble, move, resize and reshape if I want to put it in a different place. How could I satisfy all of this? I thought about it and after answering all of these questions in an approximate way I began roughly designing the sections of the structure in a notebook until I had a partial materials list. I proceeded to go and get the wood and materials from a hardware store/lumber yard. I decided to go with 8 foot long 2x2's and wire mesh (19 gauge galvanized hardware cloth).

  • 8 ft long 2x2 pieces of wood. The number depends on how big you want your aviary.
  • rolls of 19 gauge galvanized hardward cloth.
  • a roll of plumber's tape.
  • a box of screws.
  • 4.5 inch bolts with washers and nuts.
  • phillips screwdriver, tin snips, wire cutters, circular saw, drill, and a staple gun.
Are u willing to build and sell these?<br>Whats your price?
<p>Absolutely! I would happily build and sell these to anyone who would like one. I am not really sure on the price until I find out what the materials cost now. If the prices haven't changed much I am sure I could do it for less than $300. That would be for a 4x4x8 cage. If you wanteda bigger cage it would be a bit more. If I had a number of people that wanted one then I could do it cheaper. It wouldbe nice to get something for my time though (maybe a &quot;tip&quot; if you are happy with the finished product?)</p><p>Ideally, if I were to make them for people I would want to include some other things so that it is completely functional upon arrival. For example the vinyl flooring and the rolled paper for the floor as well as draped ropes and also a couple of innovations that I have since come up with that my birds really love like smaller ropes around the inside edges so they can walk along the side and get treats and give you kisses through the mesh. I would also want to include food and water dishes attached to each side and maybe even food if you like. There are many options. If you have the space you would probably be happiest with a 4x8x8 one since then it is easy to clean, easy to walk around in it, and the birds have space to fly if they like. That is the size I have for my inside one and my birds are very happy.<br><br>If a number of people contact me about ordering one I will keep careful track of the cost when I build the first one or two and then come up with a more exact list of the prices and options (for example you may want ropes, flooring, paper, food, dishes, color choices <br> for the flooring, and I would design an easy to follow set of instructions for assembling the aviary when it arrives where you would only need a wrench for tightening the bolts -- which I could also include if necessary.) </p><p><br>It would be nice if all conures and parrots had mansions like these to live in. It always pains me when I see these beautiful flying creatures clipped and trapped inside tiny dark little hovels.</p>
<p>i want one too</p>
<p>How would I get in touch with you to pay you to build me one?</p>
You can email me at terry@sdf-eu.org if you like.
<p>Actually I now have a double sized one inside the house where they sleep and where I keep them in the winter or during bad weather, and I have a single sized one out on my porch where I take them every morning so they can spend the day talking to everyone that walks by. A couple of very happy parrots! Actually this spring, in the outside one, I had a pair of doves. On the 4th of July they fell out of their nest and one had a broken leg. I took them home and hand fed them and kept them in the cage. They grew up fast and when they were happily flying around and eating seeds off the floor I opened the door. For a few days they continued to return to the cage to sleep every night but soon they left for good. They still swing by once in a while to say hi. Even the broken leg one seems to be doing fine.</p>
I should mention that I have recently discovered a very easy method of lining the bottom of the cage to make it almost trivial to clean. Just get one of these:<br> <br> <a href="http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-5157/Kraft-Paper-Wrap/30-lb-Kraft-Paper-Roll-48-x-1200" rel="nofollow">http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-5157/Kraft-Paper-Wrap/30-lb-Kraft-Paper-Roll-48-x-1200</a><br> <br> It is 1200 feet long and 4 feet wide. perfect for the cage. For an aviary like mine which is 8 feet long and 4 feet wide you can clean it once a week and this one roll will last for 150 weeks. That is almost 3 years.
<p>In reply to private emails I have received I wanted to mention this:<br><br>You will hear comments all over the place from some bird &quot;experts&quot; saying that galvanized steel will kill your bird. I disagree. My birds don't chew on the wire and therefore do not ingest the zinc oxide. They use the wire all the time with their beaks and claws during climbing but you have to recall that birds don't use saliva in the same way that we do. For them the digestion is done in the stomach to a larger extent. So they would have to actually bite off and swallow the metal to be poisoned by it. They have plenty of things to bite and play with in the aviary and so ignore the wire.</p><p>I have had parrots in my galvanized steel aviary for almost 6 years and my birds are just fine. They fly around, land on my shoulder and snuggle when I enter the aviary, taunt the cats who sit around the outside and watch them, play with cardboard boxes and paper grocery bags that I scatter around the floor and listen to the music that I have playing for them in the background. In the summer I have a summer aviary outside on the porch which I put them in every morning so they can be outside and talk to passers by. They love it.</p><p>You can make the decision for yourself, but I would never go back to putting them in a tiny cage with clipped wings so they are forced to sit on a perch and stare at the room all day. Mine love taking baths in their huge water dishes and flying around. They have lived happily together in the same aviary and they even snuggle together in their bed at night even though they are two different species of conure. My birds are happy and healthy and have a vastly higher standard of living than most birds I come across.</p>
Do you still make these aviaries? If so where are you located? Thank you. Tracey
I only made one for myself. Here in North Dakota.
<p>I want one</p>
<p>What a great story! Thanks for the tips - my &quot;bird&quot; is actually a cat called Rhubarb, but this setup for my balcony will allow him to catch the breeze :)</p>
This is unbelievably helpful! Thanks so much for posting this.<br><br>Question: would you mind posting more details about building the door? Measurements, etc. I'm very point and click. ;)
Would this be good for a pair of amazons?
<p>Very nice! This is a great plan...I like how it comes apart easily and your instructions are easy to understand. I have an outdoor aviary, but was looking for ideas to build a new one indoors. Thank you for sharing your story. I loved it! Birds sure are cool! Funny how something so small can touch your heart. Thanks again. :)</p>
<p>Congratulations on the nice aviary and on hand raising the birdie! One suggestion: get some baby food for him. There are different kinds of dry cereal that you add liquid to and the stuff in little jars. By using some of these you can more closely. Thank approximate what mom &amp; dad would feed him</p>
Love your 'ible! This is something I will consider doing once we move. Isn't it amazing how such a small bird can change the way you look at nature? Living in Kansas, we have plenty of spring and summer storms/tornados/hail..etc. I have always been the neighborhood &quot;bird lady&quot;..even people I don't know would bring me injured birds after the storms. I actually raised a &quot;pinky&quot; sparrow (no feathers at all yet) til adulthood. She would perch in all my hanging plants in the house. Taught her to fly outside..and she would take off for the day..only to come back in the evening and peck at the kitchen window or back door to be let in. I guess I imprinted on her, at such a young age but it was wonderful to have such a sweet bird consider me &quot;Momma&quot;!
I totally agree! Birds are such amazing creatures. Direct descendants of the dinosaurs even! One of the first things I noticed when I found Aristatchus was how warm birds are to the touch. Their natural body temperature is higher than ours and so not only are they warm little guys, they also need a lot of high energy food to keep that heat pumping. I could go on and on about birds. I should have gone into Ornithology I suppose. Your comment about being called 'bird lady' reminds me of that film 'The Birdman of Alcatraz' with Burt Lancaster. Great movie!
Hi, I'm trying to figure out how to contact u. I want to either buy or make an aviary outdoor for my parrot, can u help? My email is gengland@msn.com<br><br>Put AVIARY in all CAPS in subject line. Hope this makes it to u!!
<p>Is the side of the wood with the staples on the inside or outside and does the wire need to be covered with furring strips?</p>
The staples are in the outside and can't be reached by the birds and I didn't cover anything with fur strips. The birds actually don't spend any time on the cage wall unless I am standing next to it and they want to be close to me. They spend their time climbing ropes, eating from the various food dishes, playing with toys, or rumaging around in the boxes and things on the floor. They are very happy and healthy. Lately they enjoy singing along to christmas music. :)
<p>I hope you didn't actually release him. That's so inhumane. &gt;:(</p><p>If you didn't want your little bird you should have put him up for adoption.</p>
Did you read the story and the followup story in the comments? Haha. Inhumane is not the word most people would choose for how I treated that sparrow. In the end, it was a wild bird. I saved its life and raised him to adulthood (which only takes a couple of months) outside in an aviary simulating the wild. Then he flew away. After they become adults they become driven by instinct. You can't keep them as pets. That is why I got parrots after that.
<p>This was such a wonderful story and great instructions.</p>
<p>thank you very much for sharing the steps</p>
I love it... thank you very much for sharing the steps.. I have a sun conure, quaker, cockatiels and lovebirds and my little ones society finches.. I will definitely build one like yours.. :-)
<p>Hi. Love the aviary! I am a wildlife rehaber at the zoo in my hometown. I have a dove who imprinted big time, to the point that I don't want to release (for fear that she won't be able to survive on her own), so now she will stay and live with us here at the zoo. I am gathering materials right now, and have a quick question. The largest hardware cloth that I can find is 36 inches by 10 ft, 15 ft, etc. No problem on the footage, but when I'm doing 8x4 foot panels, how do I cover the whole area when it is only 36 inches? Do you just cut extra and twist the wire together somehow? I hope that there is an easy solution, and I am just not seeing it! Lol. This is only my second time ever to building anything (I recently helped build a rabbit hutch!), so I am learning the ropes! Thank you!</p>
<p>Hi ShanayC. Glad you are building one! You have two choices, first you can find 48 inch hardware cloth or you can reduce the width of the sections to 36 inches.<br>You can get the hardware cloth online if you like. Depending on how big you are making the aviary you can even get 100 foot long rolls which are 4 feet wide.<br>For example here: </p><p><a href="http://amzn.com/B000XFPUXO" rel="nofollow">http://amzn.com/B000XFPUXO</a><br><br>or you can get smaller length rolls as well. There are a bunch of different brands. </p>
Thank you for the quick reply! Great! That's what I figured. I was just making sure I wasn't missing something totally obvious, lol. I did find some that is 48 inches. I will be getting started this coming week. Thanks a bunch!!
Your story of finding the baby bird was touching. What a kind heart you have!
Are you willing to make and sell these?<br>How much would it cost?
<p>Hi, my husband made the aviary per your instructions, and it is beautiful. A friend wants us to make one for her. How much can we sale one for? hers will be 8x7x4 Thanks</p>
I am happy to hear that you made one and you are happy with it! I sure love mine. I have two, the inside one is 8x8x4 and the outside one is 8x4x4. During the warm months I take them outside in the morning to enjoy the many things to see and hear. As for how much to sell it for, I am not sure, I suppose it would depend on what it ended up costing you. I have never sold one before. All of my friends love my aviaries but none of them have birds of their own.
<p>About how much did it cost?</p>
<p>I think it was around $200. But I can't remember precisely. The hardware cloth was the most expensive part. (I got the bolts bulk at a farm and fleet store so they weren't that expensive)</p>
<p>Also what size bolts did you use?</p>
4 inch long and 1/2 inch hex.
<p>Hi, my husband and I are making an aviary as per your instructions, using 2x2's. when we screw on the plumbers tape, it is splitting the wood. did this also happen to you? Also, what size bolts did you use to bolt the sides together? did this also split the wood? thanks for any suggestions you can give us.</p>
<p>I always drilled a hole a bit smaller in diameter than the screw and then put in the screws after that so that it won't split. I used 5 inch long bolts so that they will go through two of the 2x2's and still has enough to put a washer on each side and then the nut. </p>
Amazing! Thanks for sharing.<br>I can't wait, I am going to build a backyard aviary for a cockatoo, and a new coop for my flock!
<p>This would be great for the Parakeets that I raise. I have two sets of breaders and at this time one pair has 4 babies in the nest box.</p>
<p>This is awesome! My husband and I are looking forward to trying this one out. Did you make all of the bird toys as well? That vertical ladder with the thick rope is great! </p>
<p>This looks awesome &amp; is just what I'm looking for! I've been trying to save the $2600.00 for one that is pre-built but that will take a while longer &amp; my orange winged amazon loves being outside in the yard-just not in a cage. I take him for long walks &amp; spend time with him in our yard wearing his harness but this aviary would be perfect! I will have to make this by myself &amp; I'm wondering what to use as a cover for maybe half the top so he can have sun or shade when he wants it. Any ideas for what I can use for that? Thank you so much!</p>
<p>I used a tarp on top when I had one outside.</p>
What a beautiful story of how a fishing trip changed your whole perspective of birds. Thanks for posting this my husband and I want to build one for our 3 canaries. This one is beautiful.
You have been a lifesaver for instructions for an aviary! I have all the materials, but I haven't started building because I'm stumped about what to do about the floor. I live in the South, so the weather is temperate enough for me to build this on my screened in porch which is constructed on a concrete slab. I want to be able to easily clean the floor without stressing the birds I put in the aviary. The best I can come up with is to make several fitted lined trays of some sort that can lift out. I've thought about just using the covers from those large plastic storage bins sold everywhere. How do you handle cleaning and what safe products can I use? Any ideas?
I just bought a roll of linoleum a bit bigger than the cage and just plopped the cage on top of it. Then i just lay down some newspapers and every once in a while change the newspapers a vacuum inside the cage. It is a huge cage, so it only needs cleaning once every 2 or 3 weeks. That is another nice thing about a large aviary, it takes them longer to mess it up. If you are worried about the ink in the newsprint you could buy rolls of packing paper and use that. I will do that as well once I run out of old newspapers (since I don't get newspapers anymore).<br>Anyway, linoleum and cheap packing paper is the way to go.
Thank you! That does sound easy and affordable. Much appreciated. I will have to build bigger and better aviaries soon, as I am a wildlife rehabilitator in Louisiana. I have found my passion. I will never tire of seeing Screech Owls, Red-tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls and all our other native birds. My most exotic rescue of late was a Magnificent Frigate brought in by a kind pilot from a rig in the Gulf. He had gotten water - logged and just needed to dry out. Again, many thanks as I had searched the web over and your instructions are the best for my current needs! :)
Wow you are an amazing man! That bird was lucky you were there, I too love birds, my husband and I have 4 altogether, 2 cockatiels and one green cheek and a cinnamon cheek conure , very loveable birds. We would have a dozen more if my husband had his way! Lol but I had to put my foot down and say no more , we have a wedding to go to in Sept and no one to baby sit our birds and because we can't leave them all out in the one room due to one doesn't get along with the others too well, we saw your aviary on line and now my husband is going to build one on either side of the room my birds currently occupy ( my dining room) this way they can have lots of room to roam and they will never be locked in their cages which seem so small compared to this! Can't wait till my husband is done, uhope they like it, have a feeling it may scare them at first, but we will see next week when is all done, can't wait to decorate it with toys and more toys for them lol. Thanks again for posting!
Thank you so much for the kind words! I actually have a large aviary inside and a smaller one outside now. I like to take the birds outside during the summer and let them enjoy the weather and all of the action out there. They love it!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am interested in a wide range of things as shown in my list of interests. Almost anything creative is fun and worth trying.
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