The Temporary Aviary
The Frame
Ventilation Panels
Mounting Perches
Finishing Touches



The Structural Frame

The Structural Frame

Once the birds were all safely housed downstairs in the temporary aviary, we were ready to begin work on the new aviary. The first thing to be done was to build the aviary's skeleton - it's structural frame - which would define the boundaries of the aviary and provide it's support. Because of the massive size of the aviary, the structural frame was very important - it must ensure it can support the structure, including the light fixtures and ceiling. Because the front of the aviary would be mostly open, the three remaining sides, floor, and ceiling must be extra sturdy to support the weight.

The structural frame was built primarily from 2x4s. 2x4s offer a solid construction that is easy to work with and economical too. The drawback to using 2x4s is that they are not pretty. However, because 3 sides of the aviary would be hidden by the walls of our living room, the aviary could be constructed such that the inside panels and the finished outside front hide the 2x4's from view. Had we been building an aviary that could be viewed from 3 or 4 sides, we probably would have chosen another design.`1

We chose untreated pine over treated pine because we did not want to expose the birds to any of the chemicals used to treat the wood (and kill insects). Because the aviary is indoors, the threat from insects is minimal. We chose pine over cedar because, of the two, pine is less aromatic. The aroma from cedar (especially when it gets wet) can cause respiratory problems in birds (not that we expect the structure to get wet, but better safe than sorry).

Frame Base

The first of two base panels that would become the floor.
The panels were constructed of plywood and held together
with screws (or in some cases, nails).

Two base panels were screwed together to span the entire length of the wall. (Note: more support beams were added later so that the floor would be able to support my weight, should I need to step inside.

Tom began building the frame (following the dimensions of my design), by building rectangular sections in our garage. The base was built from two such sections. Each section was built using screws (or in a few cases, nails) to attach the 2x4s in a rectangular shape. Screws are preferred over nails because they provide a stronger, tighter, more durable connection than do nails. However, there are some locations in which it is just not practical to use a screw, and in those cases, nails were used instead. Cross beam supports were added to make the structure base sturdy and ensure it would support my weight, should I need to step inside the aviary. The two rectangular sections that would make up the base were then moved into position in the living room and attached together using screws.

Frame Walls

Frame Wall Attached
Wall panels were constructed in the same fashion as the base panels, then attached to the base and each other with screws.

Frame Walls Completed
The frame with the base and all wall panels attached (Click to enlarge)
Screws were the preferred method of attaching the 2x4s, but when this was not feasible, brackets like the one shown left were used.

Wall sections were added next. Some were built in the garage, then moved and attached to the base in the Living Room. Others (where a tight fit was necessary) were built in place. The wall sections were screwed directly to the base when possible. When it was not possible because there was no ideal place to position screws, metal braces were used to attach wall sections to the base.

Once again, vertical crossbeams were used liberally to give the structure as much strength as possible and to make sure there would be plenty of places to nail the interior paneling to when the time came. Because we knew the walls would eventually be built with panels that were 4 ft wide, we ensured there were vertical crossbeams where each panel wall would meet.

Frame Ceiling

Installing the ceiling frame
Finally, the ceiling panel was placed on top of the frame
and screwed into place.

The ceiling frame
The ceiling was constructed as one very long panel. Placing
it on top was a tight fit (and a heavy lift).
View of ceiling crossbeams
Crossbeams in the ceiling helped support the structure and
provided mounting places for the fluorescent light fixtures.

Finally, the ceiling frame was built. This section was constructed as one solid panel stretching the entire length of the aviary (rather than two panels, each half the length) because we felt it would be sturdier (considering there would be no beams in the front of the aviary to support it -- the finished front, however, would offer some structural support). This required the use of two extra long (14 foot) 2x4's. This panel also was built with crossbeam supports, along with crossbeams that would be used to support the light fixtures. The ceiling panel was placed on top of the aviary frame (no small feat! It was heavy and a tight fit!) and screwed into place.

A final beam was screwed into place, supporting the ceiling panel in the front. This beam was located in the front of the aviary, about halfway across the length, and ran from the bottom to the top. It was only temporary, adding support for the ceiling until the front could be installed.

Once this was done, the structure was quite stable. There was only a little wiggle in it, and only if you really jerked on it hard. We knew this would not be an issue, since the walls, floor, and aviary front would all add even more structural stability. No one and nothing would be able to topple this aviary.

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2x4s - untreated pine


3" nails


3" screws

metal brackets  
Remember, click on any photo to enlarge!