image of Husbandry
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The keeping of birds is as old as civilized man, and in recent generations understanding of the welfare, husbandry and nutritional needs of birds has advanced significantly. This has led to considerable legislation concerning which species may be kept in captivity; dimensions and construction of enclosures or cages; as well as transport, breeding and slaughter. However, there remains considerable controversy regarding the ethics of confining many types of bird.

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3.2 Outdoor aviaries must provide protection from the elements. A mixed aviary containing Cockatiels and Indian Ringnecked Parakeets. The aviary is double-wired, with mesh attached to the inside and outside of the timber frame, reducing the risk of predator attack. The roof is covered with corrugated Perspex, while the outer mesh is covered with clear plastic sheeting to provide some protection against wind and driving rain in inclement weather. There is also some reed screening at the back, providing additional seclusion. Two male Eclectus Parrots sitting on top of a nest box in a metal-framed aviary clad with mesh and timber. There is a ceramic heat lamp in the corner of the aviary to provide heat when needed. This has been shielded from beak attack by a frame of wire mesh.
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3.3 The three-thirds aviary setup. A wooden-framed garden aviary for small parakeets, showing a door to a rear service corridor; a row of flights, each with a nest box and feeding dishes under the felt roof; an open section of flight with a perch to allow the birds access to sun and rain; a sloping floor of paving slabs for ease of cleaning and large shallow water dishes for bathing. The whole unit is incorporated into the garden as an attractive feature. Note that this aviary is not double-wired, thus leaving the birds vulnerable to predator attack. Plan of an example three-thirds aviary setup. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission. Diagram of an example three-thirds aviary setup. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission.
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3.4 Raptor centre aviaries. The wall of this eagle and vulture flight is painted blockwork; perching is provided by rocks, a wooden platform, and tree branches; the flooring is shingle; and the roof and front of the flight comprise simple wire mesh. Part of the roof is solid to provide some shelter above the wooden platform. This is a temporary holding area – this number of birds in an aviary this size would be considered overcrowded for permanent occupation. An owl aviary comprising a simple wooden framework, with plastic-coated wire mesh; gravel floor with rocks and plants; and a roof part-covered at the back above the roosting boxes. A painted rear wall, and solid wood dividers between the flights, prevent interference with neighbouring birds. Renovation of old raptor aviaries. The existing blockwork walls are being clad with timber on the outside, while a wooden frame to support the wire mesh is built on top of the walls. Completed flights with labelling for visitor information are visible in the background.
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3.5 Choice of outdoor aviary materials is an important consideration. Alexandrine Parakeets and a Ringnecked Parakeet showing the destruction these birds can do to timber. This flight is double-wired using the simpler (and cheaper) technique of a nylon mesh on the outside of the flight. Scarlet Macaws in a timber-framed aviary, with metal facing on some wood to protect it from chewing and weathering. Note the swivel feeders to the right, allowing access to the food and water bowls from outside the aviary. Tail-less Patagonian Conures in a wood and wire aviary that is in need of repair and renovation. There is no double-wiring or weather protection, and the timber is rotting and chewed.
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3.6 Choice of wire mesh gauge size should be made considering the species to be kept. Male Eclectus Parrot in an all-metal aviary. Scarlet Macaw clinging to metal weldmesh.
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3.8 Materials for raptor aviaries. The older aviaries on the left are of painted metal construction, with a gravel base; the newer timber constructions are supported on railway sleepers, and use fence panels as flight dividers. A pair of Brown Wood Owls in a planted aviary. Simple soft netting is quite sufficient to keep these birds contained, as they do not chew wire unlike parrots.
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3.9 Double-wiring of outdoor aviaries is recommended. African Grey Parrot with traumatic amputation of its right leg following a predator attack (probably a fox) as it was clinging to the single layer of wire mesh around its aviary. Maximilian Pionus in a timber-framed aviary, with metal roof supports, and natural wood branches for perching. External protection is provided in this case by simple nylon mesh, while the internal layer is standard weldmesh.
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3.10 Communal flights. A mixed group of cockatoos in a timber-framed exercise flight, with a variety of perches and double-wiring. A variety of parakeets and Cockatiels in a timber-framed, double-wired aviary.
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3.11 Access porch to the exercise flight, allowing closure of one door before the other is opened, to prevent birds escaping. An outward-opening door would have been preferable for ease of operation.
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3.12 Plan of a bank of outdoor aviaries, featuring an access corridor. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission.
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3.13 Flooring options for outdoor aviaries. A Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo foraging on the floor of its aviary. The substrate is a combination of gravel and paving slabs. Ground-feeding birds are at greater risk of intestinal parasites than are those that feed in trees and shrubs. Suspended flights prevent the build-up of waste food and droppings, but make access to the birds difficult. (b, courtesy of RJ Doneley)
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3.14 Flights should be equipped with perches. Communal exercise flight, with a variety of perches and hanging toys. Black Kites using a corner shelf in their flight. The walls are covered with melamine-faced board, for seclusion and ease of cleaning.
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3.15 Planting of aviaries. Long-billed Corella enjoying a perch made of a fresh eucalyptus branch. A family of Snowy Owls in a semi-planted aviary of wood and simple wire mesh construction. The rear wall is covered with a reed screen, and the aviary floor is a combination of chipped bark and shingle. Note: that chipped bark is a potential source of spp., and could be a problem if used with species susceptible to aspergillosis, such as Gyrfalcons or Grey Parrots.
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3.16 A female Eagle Owl in her simple nest scrape in shingle in the corner of her flight.
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3.17 Harris’ Hawk in front of its bow perch, standing in a shallow tray of water, used for drinking and bathing.
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3.18 Examples of indoor housing and cages. Room given over to housing a collection of birds, including Cockatiels, Budgerigars and Yellow-naped Macaws. This allows the birds considerable freedom and ample opportunity to exercise, but must be weighed against the potential difficulties of maintaining hygiene standards and controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Young African Grey Parrot in a simple cage in a pet store. This size of cage would clearly not be sufficient for long-term housing of such a bird. Powder-coated metal indoor cage, incorporating an opening top to allow some freedom and play; swivel feeders to enable access to bowls from outside the cage; ‘skirts’ to catch discarded food; useful drawer storage at the base; and castors on the legs to facilitate movement.
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3.19 Female Eclectus Parrot enjoying being sprayed with warm water out in the fresh air of the garden, but safely secured in a transport cage. Large and small play-stands made from hard Java wood mounted on a wooden tray, in front of a variety of indoor cages. African Grey Parrot at a veterinary clinic in a small plastic-coated wire pet carrier with a simple wooden perch.
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3.20 Indoor metal cage on castors, with a lower tray covered with newspaper that is removable for cleaning. Above this is a metal grid, which allows waste food and droppings to fall through to the paper below, but also slides out for ease of cleaning. Moluccan Cockatoo guarding his ‘nest area’ and shiny food bowl ‘chick’ on the newspaper-lined floor of his cage. Note how the lower wooden perch has been chewed to matchwood, and the rear bars of the cage have been bent and removed by this bird’s powerful beak.
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3.21 Food and water bowl options. Water bowl contaminated with bird droppings because it was situated on the cage floor under a perch. Simple plastic ‘D-cup’ containing pomegranate and sweetcorn clipped over the wire of a cage. Stainless steel ‘coop cups’ in various sizes for holding food and water. Stainless steel ‘coop cup’ containing parrot mix, clipped simply over the horizontal bars of a cage. African Grey Parrot in a holding cage in a pet store; the plastic food and water dishes are held in their designed openings with spring clips, with additional security provided by dog clips. ‘Swivel feeder’ mounted mailbox-style on the side of a cage. It rotates around its vertical central spindle, allowing access to the bowls from outside the cage or aviary.
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3.22 Macaws free-living outside at a public bird garden in the UK. The exposed electrical junction box is a potential hazard.
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3.23 Umbrella Cockatoo bathing under a tap. Regular bathing is essential for the healthy maintenance of birds’ plumage. This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo shows mild signs of feather destructive disorder, with contour feathers self-removed from the chest and abdomen. The damage that can be done if allowed unsupervised freedom is also shown.
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3.24 mould growing on peaches. Each of the black pinpoints arising from the grey hyphae is a conidium containing hundreds of minute fungal spores, which if inhaled may lead to serious aspergillosis in birds.
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3.25 Black-headed Caiques on a play-stand in a domestic kitchen. Such a room is full of potential dangers to birds (see text). Umbrella Cockatoo destroying a TV remote control. The metal and plastic, as well as the batteries, in this instrument are a serious risk to birds.
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3.26 Male Northern Cardinal in ‘natural’ conditions in a planted aviary.
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3.27 Many falconry terms reflect its ancient origins, such as ‘tiercel’ for a male falcon (a third smaller than females) and ‘mews’ for housing (from the French , to shed feathers). Captive Martial Eagle ‘mantling’ its prey (shielding the prey with its wings). Red-tailed Hawk tethered to a bow perch, which is in turn covered with artificial grass. Note the leather jesses, threaded through anklets on each leg, and attached to a tether. Falcon on a perch mounted on weighing scales. Note the leather anklets and jesses, attached to a leash, which is in turn held by the falconer’s leather glove (which gave rise to the phrase ‘wrapped around his little finger’, meaning to be under his control). The weights used are old-fashioned brass imperial measures, still used by most falconers, rather than using modern metric and digital scales. The bird wears a leather hood to keep it calm.
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3.28 A selection of Zebra Finches and canaries in exhibition cages, awaiting judging at a bird show.
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3.29 Juvenile Blue and Gold Macaw on a rope perch in a display aviary, spreading its wings to show its magnificent colouring. These birds have a wingspan of around 120 cm. Three young Amazon parrots on a Java wood play-stand, with a Galah on its cage, in a ‘baby bird room’ at a pet store. Customers may view the birds through the glass windows to the left, but are not allowed direct access to the birds unless genuinely interested, and only then with a staff member. This helps to reduce the risk of escape, customer injury and the spread of infection to the birds.
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3.31 Display of vultures and eagles in a raptor centre. Note the barriers to prevent public access to the birds; floor coverings of mixed concrete, shingle and washable plastic-coated pads; the block perches to which the birds are tethered; and the informative signage. American Bald Eagle flying to an artificial grass-covered T-perch during a flying display at a raptor centre. The falconer wears a shoulder bag containing food items with which to reward the bird. Such centres provide excellent opportunities for people to get close to and observe these birds and their behaviour. Rainbow Lorikeet in a walk-through aviary. These birds are accustomed to human contact, probably through hand-rearing, and allow the public to get close-up. Note the stainless steel identity ring (band) on the bird’s right leg.
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3.32 A grey and a sky-blue Budgerigar – two of the many colour mutations of this familiar parakeet. Two Rosa Bourke’s Parakeets, a pale pink variation of the nominate race, which have darker wings and head, and a pale blue rump. This species is highly popular in captivity and is a gentle, easily managed bird. Blue mutations of the Splendid Parakeet in a show (exhibition) cage. The nominate race of this species has a blue head, neck and wing flashes, but with a green back and tail, yellow abdomen and scarlet chest.
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3.33 Coloured aluminium leg band showing breeder’s code. Stainless steel leg band with veterinary code. Leg bands may show the year of hatching of the bird. If the leg band fitted is too small for the bird’s fully grown size this may lead to compression of the circulatory system and, ultimately, loss of the foot.
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3.34 Feral Ringnecked Parakeets around a nest hole in an oak tree in a Buckinghamshire park, UK.
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