Building Your Own Flight or Aviary


Using a miter sawCommercially-made cages are often pricey and not customizable. If you want a tailor-made flight or aviary that suits your specifications and needs, and you are working on a budget, building your own flight or aviary is a smart option to consider. The simplest all-wire flight can be built for as little as $10 (US), and larger, "fancier" furniture-like enclosures can be put together in as little as one day for a fraction of the cost of comparable commercially-made enclosures. Building your own flight or aviary can be a fun and exciting project for just about anyone with a little extra time to dedicate to it.

This section of will cover a few basic designs and ideas for building free-standing flight cages and aviaries. (If you are looking to build a more "permanent" structure [where concrete needs to be poured and/or a shack-like enclosure is to be built onto the structure], you should look for how-to books in online bookstores, at local bookstores, or at your local library.) Be aware that some projects of this nature may require you to comply with certain regulations or to obtain a permit before building a structure, so check with your local Building and Zoning Department to see if your enclosure will meet building code.

Considerations Before Construction

Before building any type of enclosure, you need to find a good location for it. Consider the positioning of the flight or aviary in regards to the flow of traffic (placing it in a quiet, low-traffic environment is best and least stressful), and sources of electric outlets and water (they should be nearby if possible). Do you want this to be an indoor or outdoor enclosure? Indoor enclosures require adequate air flow (good air circulation is necessary for providing fresh air and preventing illness), more frequent cleaning, and full spectrum lighting which mimics natural sunlight5 (see Ideal Lighting, Temperature, and Humidity). Outdoor enclosures require protection from the elements (weather/temperature extremes/too much sun/rain/wind/etc.), adequate drainage (to prevent damp floors which can promote the outbreak of disease), and the avoidance of pests (such as insects and free-ranging birds) and predators5. You must also consider the size of the enclosure and how many birds it will comfortably house. Enclosures should be built so that they are longer that they are tall or wide.5 As a general rule, 3-4 square feet of floor space is required per pair of finches, so use this formula to help you determine how large you should build your flight or aviary to accommodate the number of birds you would like to keep in it. Avoid overcrowding the birds and make sure enclosures are constructed to be easy-to-clean with minimal disturbance to the birds during cleaning. Additionally, try to limit the birds' access to their own droppings and be careful to create cage doors which allow for easy access yet discourage birds' escape. Always try to build the largest cage you can accommodate and afford.

Appropriate Building Materials

I purchase most of my building materials from local home improvement stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot. Some sources of wire and other building materials can be found in the Links section of the site. Be very careful to use only safe, nontoxic building materials. Do not use: screen, cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated wood, and do not use brass (corrodes), copper (corrodes), zinc, or lead in any material that may be consumed (lead is found in solder, lead-based paints [varnishes and lacquers], lead-free paints with leaded drying agents, hardware cloth, galvanized wire, plaster).5,6 Galvanized hardware cloth may be used as wire, but it must first be scrubbed with vinegar and a wire brush, then immediately rinsed to prevent possible lead and zinc poisoning.5 Avoid using furniture polish, formaldehyde, metal polish, pesticides or other chemicals on the enclosure.5 Safe building materials include: exterior grade plywood, industrial-grade epoxy paint, wire galvanized after welding if it has first been scrubbed with vinegar and rinsed thoroughly,5 water-based polyurethane, and nontoxic Elmer's glue. If you can find it, I highly recommend using PVC powder coated ("plastic-coated") galvanized wire as it is easier to clean and comes in a variety of colors. I have also found black, all-plastic "hardware netting" at Home Depot which is easy to clean, very easy to cut (does not require wire cutters, only a standard pair of scissors), but unfortunately cannot be used outdoors since rodents and other predators can easily break it, etc. Whatever the variety, wire spacing should be no smaller than ¼" and no larger than ½" between bars--do not use screen since birds' nails get caught in it easily and this can cause injury and even death.

Instructions for Construction

Click on the picture below of the enclosure you would like to build to see instructions for building that structure. Drawings of additional cage and aviary plans will also be provided in the near future. This section will be functional soon!

Walk in aviary Panel-form aviary All wire flight
Outdoor Aviary

Requires power tools and extensive labor; best suited for an outdoor enclosure; requires more than one person to construct.

Power tools helpful; best suited for an aesthetically-pleasing indoor enclosure; looks like a commercially-made structure.
All-wire Flight

No power tools required; very quick & easy to make, but limited to a smaller size and indoor use; functional but not very pretty.
California Flight Box style breeding cages
California Flight

Power tools required; limited to outdoor placement only; can be made to look like a commercially-made enclosure.
Breeding Cabinet

Power tools required; best suited for an aesthetically-pleasing indoor enclosure; looks like a commercially-made structure.

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