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Design Suggestions for Easy Maintenance

The Plexiglas shield above the feeding station keeps droppings from soiling the food and is easily cleaned with vinegar and water. The feeding station is easily accessible from one of the center doors.

The use of plexiglas and tall baseboards keeps debris inside the aviary. Because the entire front is made of doors, all parts of the aviary are easily accessible for cleaning.

Mounting shades to divide the aviary into sections keeps the birds out while you clean.

Manzanita perches are easy to clean because of their smooth surface. They are usually sold with a screw mount so they can easily be removed for intensive cleaning or disinfecting if necessary.
If you are in the process of designing an aviary, you may want to keep in mind the following suggestions. These ideas may help minimize the time spent maintaining the aviary so you have more free time to enjoy it. Of course you have to weigh the costs and benefits of each item in order to create the aviary environment that is right for you and your birds.
  • Design the aviary with a baseboard that is several inches above the floor level. This will help reduce the amount of seed, hulls, food particles, feathers, nesting material, bedding/litter, etc, that will leak from the aviary. NOTE: Some debris will likely still leak, particularly feathers, which tend to float up in the air when the doors are opened. Some people suggest misting the feathers with water before opening aviary doors so that they don't fly up in the air. This is only possible if you can spray through a mesh ventilation panel. Also, very tall baseboards will also limit your ability to view the birds on the floor.
  • Design the aviary using Plexiglas instead of mesh. The Plexiglas will not allow debris to pass out of the aviary and into your house. Mesh ventilation panels will still be necessary for proper airflow, but design the aviary such that the ventilation panels are up at least midway from the floor, where most of the debris will accumulate.
  • If using Plexiglas, design the aviary such that if a piece of Plexiglas becomes damaged, it can be replaced without too much hassle. Plexiglas can crack or become scratched (remember, paper towels will scratch Plexiglas over time - use soft cloths such as dishtowels instead). It can also fog over time, especially if not cleaned with the appropriate cleaners.
  • Use smooth slick surfaces on the inside of the aviary. Rough or grooved surfaces allow droppings and particles to become wedged inside. A lot of scrubbing may be required to get these surfaces clean. Painting wood surfaces with a semi-gloss or glossy finish latex paint will make it easier to clean droppings off the surface.
  • Design the aviary such that all parts of the aviary are easily accessible for cleaning. If the aviary will not be a walk-in aviary, make sure that all parts of the aviary are accessible via the door(s).
  • Install shades or other dividers to partition your aviary to keep the birds out of the area you are cleaning, so they will not interrupt you as you work and are less likely to escape.
  • Place the food/water dispensers in a location that is easily accessible. Designing a special door down low used to swap food/water in and out may be useful, although it is probably not necessary as long as your aviary is not overcrowded since the birds are not likely to try and escape unless provoked. However, such a door may be a nice convenience if you ever need to have someone else maintain your aviary for a few days. They will probably feel more secure opening a small door than a full-sized one. Alternatively, install a shade in front of the door that can be pulled down when the food/water needs to be changed.
  • Be sure to leave the area above the food and water free of perches so that they will not become soiled from above. Or, install a feeding station with an easy-to-clean shield above it.
  • Do not stuff nesting material such as Excelsior into the back wall of the aviary as was done with the first aviary we owned. Although it looks nice, if you ever needed to disinfect the entire aviary, it would be difficult to do so without replacing all that nesting material. Also, the birds will tend to pull out nesting material to make little holes they can then nest in. These holes are very difficult to keep clean. When we destroyed our old aviary, we found the back wall behind the nesting material to be filthy with droppings. If you choose this route, design the back wall such that you can easily remove and replace this nesting material and clean behind it.
  • Put the aviary lights on a timer so you don't have to worry about remembering to turn on and off the lights at the same time each day. If possible, leave one light on slightly longer than the rest so the birds have enough light to find their way to their sleeping spots before being submerged in darkness. Or keep a red light or a night light on throughout the night.
  • Use manzanita perches. Manzanita perches are natural branch perches, so your birds will benefit from the variation in shape and thickness. But they are also a very smooth wood and very easy to clean. If you want to include natural perches with a rougher surface as well (ie, for nail health), place these perches higher up or in other locations where they are not as likely to be soiled with droppings.
  • Don't overcrowd your aviary with perches - be sure to leave enough space between perches to allow flight. Leave some space above the perches (flight zone) so that the birds can fly from one end to the other without interruption. Attempt to place the perches such that one perch does not get soiled because it is directly beneath another. Remember, the birds will generally prefer the higher perches, so placing most of the perches high up at the same level is preferred. Some lower perches are useful if you have injured birds or young birds who do not yet fly well. They will help these birds reach the higher perches. Note that petshop birds who have never had the opportunity for real flight may need these lower perches as well as they build up strength to reach the higher perches.
  • Use silk/plastic plants and vines sparingly. A lot of time can be spent scrubbing droppings off of silk leaves. Place these items up high and in out-of-the-way places, where birds cannot perch above and soil them. You may want to consider decorating portions of the outside of the aviary with plants (real or silk), since they cannot be soiled but will still give the aviary a more natural, "living" look and may provide some cover and privacy for the birds. When selecting fake greenery, remember that smooth plastic leaves will be easier to clean than cloth leaves.
  • Select accessories such as seed hoppers and water dispensers with smooth surfaces (the first set of seed hoppers/water dispensers I used had a rough textured base, making it difficult to scrub droppings off cleanly). Plastic accessories are easier to clean and disinfect than are wood accessories. Select accessories that can be easily cleaned and sanitized in a dishwasher.
  • Although I believe that using paper on the bottom of the aviary is the safest choice, litter/bedding could be used instead to eliminate the need to change the paper on a daily basis. If you go this route, be sure to choose a safe litter. Aspen bedding or bedding from recycled newspaper is frequently recommended. Pine or cedar is usually best avoided because of the aromas emitted when wet. Corn cob is prone to mold growth. Remember, however, the bedding may spill out of the aviary over time.
  • Purchase an extra set of utensils and accessories so that one can be in use in the aviary while the other is removed for cleaning.
  • Use disposable products when possible and not cost-prohibitive. For example, serving fresh food on a disposable paper/plastic plate will mean less clean up at the end of the day.
  • Avoid the use of stick and bamboo nestboxes if possible. These nestboxes are very difficult to clean, as the poop becomes wedged in all the cracks and crevices. Plastic box nestboxes can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher. Or, use wooden box nestboxes with a cardboard box insert. The cardboard box can be disposed of when it becomes too dirty and replaced with a fresh one.
  • Consider the use of a seed hopper that is designed to catch and recycle spilt seed. In addition to saving money by reducing waste, there will be less rubble collecting on the floor and less debris to leak from the aviary. I have not yet found one that will work in my aviary and that is large enough to support more than a few birds. A nice (but very expensive one) can be found at Although I have not tried it, I have heard good things about it.

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