Friday, October 2, 2009

Winterizing the Aviaries

Our birds are coming nicely through their molts, it is nice to see all the renewed beautiful feathering. The nights are getting colder signally a most important time of the year. The time to winterize our aviaries has come! I have been busy now for a few weeks preparing and winterizing the outdoor aviaries. The old bottom material is removed and an extra thick layer was put down. For this I use hemp fiber mulch. I like it because it stays dry throughout the layers, it gathers droppings and clumps together for easy removal. The night areas were cleaned and new bottom material laid down. The heating process was monitored and corrected. Lighting for the night area was adjusted to allow the birds plenty of time to safely reach the warm area at nightfall. In the newer Aviary the new night area which is not a heated area but more a protection from the elements. This area will be heated only on the coldest days of winter. I laid in a new floor and I'm preparing it for the birds that are housed in that aviary. I am on day 2 of a 3 day wait on the floor drying and then I can put down a layer of bottom material and run in electrical lines for heat (if needed) and lighting. The outdoor aviary sections will be covered with wind screens to cut down on the amount of flow through air. The winter months are not pleasant ones with birds held in aviaries. Every precaution is taken to assure that they are protected from the sometimes harsh elements that can accompany winter. Unfortunately at times, no matter how much precaution is taken there is almost always a bird or 2 that just cannot winter properly, and consequently lose their life. When this happens you have to say to this a cause of something I have done or not done or is this just a case of the bird being in poor health. This is always the question. Water supply must also be protected during winter. Either by heating the water bottles or by placing them in the protected areas. At one point during below zero temps last year the water was freezing even tho well protected. This is always a concern, make sure that there is always a fresh UNFROZEN water supply to the birds during winter! Oh and if you have hookbilled birds....take precaution that they don't chew the wires for heaters to waterbottles!!!! Next on your list KNOW YOUR BIRDS. The roosting habits vary with different kinds of birds. Some don't mind sharing the stick with others through the night...while others want to be by themselves on the stick. Some will snuggle in groups and then some prefer to be in groups inside a protective box. Yet others prefer a solitary corner all to themselves! Your night area should fit all the needs of your birds. This will give you more chances that they will take advantage of the protected night area during times when it is needed. Some of my birds absolutely refuse to go into the protective areas and will stay outside even on the coldest of nights. This is of course the choice of the bird if you have offered him an alternative and he has declined there is not much else you can do. I have heard of some people "chasing them inside" then closing a doorway. I do not believe in this....but rather believe in allowing my birds to choose. Whether or not they make the right choice is up to them....but could also mean for me a loss of a bird. But isn't this closer to nature? Food during the colder months is important too, not only what kind but also the amounts. I have noticed that the birds will eat more during colder days than during warmer days. The food supply is constantly refilled during the winter months, mostly consisting of a seed diet with greens, fruits added in occasionally. During the last few months of winter, greens are increased and because I have alot of red birds they will get fruits and veggies high in carotines. Just before breeding begins the proteins will be added into their diet. After all is done....I hope that I have done enough to assure the birds all come through winter in excellent condition and ready for the new seasons to come.

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