Captive birds are subjected to an environment that is controlled by the aviarist. It is most important to provide clean food and water utensils daily. The birds’ droppings should be removed from a large aviary at least once a week, and from cages or small aviaries twice weekly. This is most easily effected by having a removable tray in the bottom of the cage, or by placing several sheets of newspaper on the floor – one or two sheets and droppings can be removed at a time. Droppings should not be removed more frequently, as there is need for coprophagia (eating droppings).
Feeders. There are many types of feeders, but the self-feeding system is the best. It requires little maintenance and provides the birds with fresh, clean material all the time. Big, commercial self-feeders are available. Points to watch for are that the bulk carrier is transparent and that the tray is small enough to prevent the birds perching on the edge or in the tray itself while feeding. Preferably a perch should be set up close to the feeding trough so that birds can perch there to eat, thus allowing droppings to fall to the floor of the cage rather than into the feed trough.
Drinking vessel that does not become fouled, cannot be spilled and t birds cannot bathe in. The ideal system is an inverted bottle with plastic salt-shaker top. It is secured to the wire on the inside of Alternatively a nipple-type, bent glass tube running through a cork An inverted bottle with a screw- Inverted bottle serves the same purpose. This can be attached to the on salt-shaker top is the ideal waterer.
Outside of the cage
Large aviaries should be provided with a source of running water which should be 3-4 centimetres deep and controlled by a floating ballcock system one end, or alternatively a tap which is only just on. Always provide the birds with something to stand on in the middle of the water, which will also prevent young birds drowning—this could be a stone or a brick. If running water is not provided, birds should be provided with separate bathing vessels, otherwise the drinking water will be fouled and the birds may become ill.
A container should be provided of fine, sandy, dry, loamy soil on the floor of the cage. It is a good idea to mix a small amount of insecticidal powder with the dust. This will control lice’ and other ectoparasites.
Bird House Location
Cages and aviaries should be in a sunny spot, particularly where they collect the winter sun. They should be in a draught-free area, sheltered by a fence or another building from the prevailing cold winds and rain. Aviaries with a shelter at one end should have the exposed end open to the direction of the sun while the three enclosed sides should be against the prevailing winds and driving rain. In the southern hemisphere the open end should face north. Finch and parrot aviaries in non-tropical areas should be partly enclosed, with an open section allowing the birds to take full advantage of the sunshine. The enclosed section provides shelter and privacy during nesting and rearing.
The aviary should be located so that the birds are disturbed as little as possible, by noisy roads, playing children or any other noisy activity. Excessive disturbance may lead to refusal to nest, or desertion of eggs or young.
Small cages containing canaries or budgerigars should never be left in the sun for long periods. If a position that affords partial shade and sunlight is not available, partially cover the cage with a cloth.
Bird Nesting Material
During the breeding season, or when the hen (the female bird) restlessly hops or flies around the cage as if looking for nesting materials, a nest cup or box should be provided. However, only birds that have been bred in captivity for a few generations will use these. Some finches will not use nest cups or boxes at all. If they are provided they should be placed as high up in the cage or aviary as possible, but not so high as to cause difficulty for the birds entering.
For those birds that prefer to make their own nests completely, grass and other material should be provided together with a piece of shrub or other closely branched vegetation. Some birds may need special materials for including grass stems, twine, coconut fibre, moss, soft grasses, cotton-wool, teased rope, down, gravel, stones and feathers. For Information on the nesting requirements of different bird species, discuss the subject with the pet shop or breeder from whom you bought the birds. The larger the aviary, and the more natural the plants, the less difficulty the birds will have in choosing material and to suit their needs.