Basic Requirements of all Enclosures

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.

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 nesting, including grass stems, twine, coconut fibre, moss, soft grasses, leaves, cotton-wool, teased rope, down, gravel, stones and feathers. For further information on the nesting requirements of different bird species, it is best to discuss the subject with the pet shop or breeder from whom you purchase the birds. The larger the aviary, and the more natural the plants and shrubbery, the less difficulty the birds will have in choosing material and position to suit their needs.

Perches

Cages should be provided with shrubbery, either in pots or as cut pieces, for the birds to perch on. The shrub branches are preferable to dowel perches and must at least be provided during the breeding season.

Where perches are used, they should not be round hardwood dowels (which are commonly used) but oval softwood. Hardwood should not be used because it invariably splits, and allowing a hiding place for mites and lice. Mites and lice can withstand disinfectants and can attack the birds again at night.

Canary cages must have 2 perches, the first 7-10 cm from the ground and the other not closer than 15 cm from the roof. These perches should be at opposite ends of the cage. The distance of the top perch from the roof is critical during the breeding season, as breeding may be impaired if it is too close to the roof.

Waterers

Select a drinking vessel that does not become fouled, cannot be spilled and which the birds cannot bathe in. The ideal system is an inverted bottle with a screw-on plastic salt-shaker top. It is secured to the wire on the inside of the cage. Alternatively a nipple-type, bent glass tube running through a cork in an inverted bottle serves the same purpose. This can be attached to the outside of the cage.

Large aviaries should be provided with a source of running water which should be 3-4 centimeters deep and controlled by a floating ballcock system at 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.

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.

Dirt baths

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.