The New Bird Room~

The breeder cages. (TWFA 2014)

The individual breeder cages. (TWFA 2014)

The juvenile aviary - 5ftx3ftx18in. (TWFA 2014)

The juvenile aviary – 5ft (w) x 3ft (h) x 18in (d).  Can you spot the photo bomber?? (TWFA 2014)

It’s been weeks and a whole lot of work but the new bird room is finally complete! The main delay was the 3 months it took to figure out how to hang the expensive new shelves on the 100-year-old walls of our new house. First we thought of special load bearing hooks, then considered cast iron shelves, finally figuring out how to build our own studs thanks to the suggestion of another family member. That was right around the beginning of the new year.

My Fawn OB male Alecsander enjoying his privacy from the neighbor cage. The fake plants are used as a divider here. (TWFA 2014)

Once the wood and other materials arrived, I realized that the cage lights I had purchased didn’t include any light bulbs. So I bought some. After that, I realized that I needed a specific drill bit type to hang the aviary hooks which we didn’t have. So I bought the bit needed. It took a couple months to gather these extra supplies that kept popping up & stopping construction. The cage cleaning and decorationsdecorations including the lights took 4 days to assemble.

As most of our followers already know, before we moved into this new house in the Fall, we had just moved in the Spring during the breeding season. We had intended to move into a house instead of an apartment back then but we couldn’t find one that met our needs and didn’t have water damage which would have been a health risk for the flock. We looked throughout the Summer and finally found the perfect and most gorgeous house after we had given up hope and were only browsing by chance. As they say, everything happens for a reason and this house is literally a perfect fit!

My BC CFW pair enjoying the cage lights. Aiden & Bella have tiny hatchlings in their nest. (TWFA 2014)

My BC CFW pair enjoying the cage lights. Aiden & Bella have tiny hatchlings in their nest. (TWFA 2014)

Lights
The lights I decided to go with are the Exo-Terra fixtures. Yes, they are marketed to reptile owners, but if you’re educated about lights and have read my recent article explaining them then you know that doesn’t matter. Compared to the ZooMed “bird specific” fixtures, the Exo-Terras have more coverage.

They also are compatible with any CFL bulb, specifically the Exo-Terra Repti-Glo 5.0 bulbs that I prefer. The featherbrite lights have even less coverage than the ZooMed – which is why I switched to the ZooMed clamp lamps during last season. Those were okay but not very visually pleasing and they didn’t provide as much coverage as the others. Featherbrite lights are also about $90-$130 or more, while the Exo-Terras are about $25 – charging the most for the least coverage.

What are the lights plugged into? Well for starters there is a grounded & safe power strip that I used, it is heavy duty and made for reptile setups that have multiple lights and high humidity. That is similar to the multiple lights and high humidity in my bird room. It also comes with a 1-year warranty making it incredibly reliable. To learn more about this Zilla power strip, visit the listing @ Amazon. I will be using push pins to hide the cords and a chain of fake ivy to hide/protect the power strip.

The Zilla power strip then plugs into a Westek timer (@ Amazon) that regulates their light cycle. Right now the day cycle is set to be very long in order to get the flock acclimated to the use of cage lights after not having them for so long. In a couple weeks or so the day cycle will change to be set at about 4-6 hours, I haven’t decided specifically yet. The reason for this is Hagen’s recommendation to only use their UVA/UVB lights for 1-2 hours a day for non-breeding birds. So 4-6 hours for breeding birds would be an accurate estimate.

My Phaeo (FC - SF) male Ares perched on one of his many Manzanita branches inside of his individual cage.

My Phaeo (FC – SF) male Ares perched on one of his many Manzanita branches inside of his individual cage.

Perches
I used 100% natural branches for all of my perches. The wood is either Manzanita or local Maple – both are safe for birds. I started collecting the branches when we lived at our previous apartments. Once we moved and I no longer had a giant Maple tree at the park down the block, I decided to purchase some Manzanita. They are $30 for 10 branches which are 12″ long @ Ebay, freshly cut and very malleable (aka “bendy”) when they arrive. I’ve purchased 2 or 3 orders of 10 already and definitely will be purchasing a couple more to have in stock for visitors.

Fake Plant Decorations
As you can see, I used many plastic & silk plants to decorate the cages. This not only gives them some much-needed cover to provide a little privacy, it also makes them feel more at home in a naturally beautiful environment. Any type of powder or other piece that would have been ingested was removed (little tips that are made to look like pollen especially). I also used the fake plants as dividers, needing more to cover the space in between pairs who were distracted by their neighbors.

Two young males use a single vacation feeder in the juvenile aviary. (TWFA 2014)

Food & Water
The feeders I have upgraded the entire flock to recently are the very handy vacation-style from LG. They can hold up to 2 weeks of seed for a single pair and have a catch tray underneath for empty husks. They really help keep the mess to a minimum compared to the usual seed cups that come with each cage. They not only spill the husks in all directions but also uneaten seed. Some of my birds also like to do a cannonball into the seed cups to spread their food everywhere.

The drinkers are 4oz or 3oz for individual cages, and 8oz for the aviary (2-4 of them depending on how many occupants). All purchased at either LG or LGF (because LG does not carry the 3oz or 4oz versions). Baths are the standard cage cups for right now though a few do have the nicer outside-hanging version.

The type of seed I use has stayed the same – I only use Laraine’s Special Seed mix @ LG. It is the best possible option and certainly the most fresh. I have tried multiple species-specific seed mixes for my Canary but he likes Laraine’s Gouldian mix the best so I keep a feeder in the aviary full of it for him. He devours every single bite while the expensive Canary mix remains untouched.

Substrate
I made the switch at the end of this past season from nesting materials to Prevue cage paper for multiple reasons. The nesting materials were not as easy to clean or keep clean, needing to remove the top layer or so whenever it was soiled which didn’t clean the layers underneath.

Prevue cage paper. (TWFA 2014)

Prevue cage paper. (TWFA 2014)

The materials also got into every nook and crannie, partially thanks to the free-flying hand-tame birds. Once a veterinary friend pointed out that any hatchlings falling from the nest would be almost as safe with either substrate, I decided to make the switch. However if I ever spot a juvenile that has any kind of leg splaying, I will be using a towel as a more supportive substrate to help correct the issue. I doubt that will happen, because none of my babies ever experience leg splaying, but it’s best to be safe just in case!

So far I really like the thick paper. It’s easy to cut in order to fit the cages – I purchased an 18″ roll for my 16″ deep trays which fits perfectly. I use hypoallergenic tape to secure it to the trays since it’s safe for them to pick at or even tear apart. If they do get any of the tape or substrate materials into their nests it’s also 100% safe. They could even eat small pieces of it and it would not harm them as other chemicals and adhesive would.

If you have any questions or concerns
Please feel free to contact me via email! I always do my best to respond within 1-2 business days unless there are unforeseen delays such as redecorating the bird room. 🙂

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