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Aviary/greenhouse: advice?

100years

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10/16/16
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Hi
I'm new to the forum, but I do lurk on occasion, as I constantly try to make sure I'm doing the best by my little lovebirds at all times. I'm a fairly new owner; I inherited 2 peach-faced lovebirds in January 2012 when my father's girlfriend died. She was a smoker and kept them in a small cage together. I have no doubt she cared for them very much, but I am very surprised they made it out of that place alive, knowing how much both she and my father smoked! I currently have them housed in a large cage where they can fly a bit (it's about 20"x30" and 48" or so tall, so pretty good size for them), and I give them time to come out of the cage and hang out with me every now and then, though they are only marginally tame and seem a little scared to fly around. They do seem quite happy with me, and I love them very much. We believe they were 5 when I got them, so that would make them almost 10 now. They seem to be doing great and I feed them Volkman seed mix, Harrison's pellets, and Goldenfeast mix.

Anyway, here's the long and short of it: I live in a small apartment and there are lots of cars and people nearby. I like to have the windows open for my babies, but the neighbors are ALWAYS smoking on their porch (making me nauseous) and surely not doing much good for my birds. I want them to have a good life, and my boyfriend lives on a little farm about an hour south, where there are no neighbors and no worries about smog or exhaust or smoke. I'd love to move in with him, which he wants me to do. He does have 2 cats and a dog, and I also have a cat (who doesn't mind the birds, and in fact seems to really enjoy them). He also has hearing damage from combat in the gulf war and as much as I love hearing my sweet birds chirp and squawk, it really hurts his ears. Thus, I can't move in with him, and so I have been just driving the hour there and back a couple times a week, and my poor animals get stuck home alone (no more than one night at a time), or he has to do the same and leave his babies alone. It sucks!

So, he's been wanting to invest in a greenhouse, and my dream is for my birds to have a huge place to fly and get good clean fresh air. I know they're probably entering the later years of their lives and I desperately want them to be happy as they can be. I hate seeing birds in cages and I took them in specifically so that I could do the best I could to make their lives good, even though they don't get to roam free like I wish they could. I've been looking online at greenhouse kits and I see quite a few that look great, but I don't know if they'd be good for lovebirds. Maybe someone can tell me if you've got any ideas about what's best.

The greenhouses we are looking at starting with are about 7-10' tall, and anywhere between 6x8 to 10x12 feet, so fairly big. And I think we'd go with a larger size. They have polycarbonate (lexan) plastic windows, which seems to be safe, but I'd like to know what you think about that material, if anyone has any knowledge of it. From what I read, it's up for debate, but some bird toys are actually made of it. It's the fumes I'd worry about. Some greenhouses have clear windows and others are glazed or textured. In order to keep them from flying into the windows, I'd probably opt for glazed windows. They have panels in the roof and on the back side of the house that open for ventilation and circulation, and we would likely keep a fan on, as well as a heater in the cold weather. He will be growing mostly fruits and vegetables in there year-round, so we would have to keep it warm. We live in southern Kentucky, so it gets really cold on occasion, but nothing like the northern states get on a regular basis.

I realize we'd have to modify a few things, but my thought is to partition a space for the birds with screens and keep the vents covered with really good strong mesh screens and let them have a nice little space where they can roam and feel free, and maybe if it's doable, an area that can be opened into a larger screened-only space for fresh air, which could be closed when it's cold (to that end, I saw some really nice inexpensive chicken coops that look perfect for that function. I'd also keep them close to a good heat source, and I'm definitely angling to have my boyfriend put the greenhouse up against the back door so we would basically be adding the area onto the house and could step directly into it, or at least constructing it within a couple of feet from the door. There is a lot of good sunlight and the polycarbonate panels are uv-coated so it wouldn't burn them. I currently keep the recommended full-spectrum bulb here for them, since they need additional light that they can't get from being by the windows, so if that's needed, it's easy to do.

Does anyone have experience with this or have any thoughts on it? Is it a bad idea? I would also keep their current cage in the house so that if something happened and we needed to bring them into the main house, we could do so easily. Is this a cruel thing, though? To keep them outside of the main house? I would be out there constantly, and they'd have a lot more stimulation than they do in this little cramped space, where i'm gone 2-3 nights a week. I don't know if this is a good idea or not, and i would love your advice! One thing to note is that the back door is off the main bedroom, so we would be sleeping in the room next to them, essentially.

Any thoughts??
Thanks in advance for your wisdom and experience!
 

Hankmacaw

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The one thing you will have to consider when trying to keep birds in a greenhouse (warm and damp) is the possibility for Aspergillosis. It is a fungus that is very prevalent in warm moist soil and it is a killer for birds.
 

JLcribber

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The concept and idea is fabulous IMO. I've been in many greenhouses that have birds (including parrots) living in them free. Of course anything you grow would need to be bird friendly.

This is my favorite place in the world (because I have access to it). If I was rich I would build one just like it and live in it with them or I would buy this one and do the same thing. :lol:

Muttart Conservatory :: City of Edmonton

 

100years

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Thanks @Hankmacaw for the warning! That really helps. I will do more research and see if this is a feasible idea. I hope it is, but I am such a worrier that I don't even know if I could ever relax if they weren't right beside me all the time! I worry enough as it is.
@JLcribber I would do that too. Wow! I am actually trying to get my financial future under control and start saving to hopefully buy my own little homestead and maybe start an animal rescue. It's a long way off, but having a huge aviary is a dream of mine. Along with a cat and dog and horse and every other kind of animal habitat that I can possibly afford to safely provide! Needless to say, the research for THAT big dream hasn't even begun yet. This project is definitely something I want to try.

Maybe even with a small space, I can find a way to keep some spots dehumidified or even completely separated from the rest in the greenhouse, though I imagine that would be very difficult. I may see if I can get in touch with some of those bigger greenhouses and ask about it. I was reading that there are ways to reduce the propagation of fungus, but it's so hard to imagine and I don't want to jeopardize my little ones.
Thank you both for your responses!
 

G.B.

Meeting neighbors
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I have my lovebirds in outside aviary with polycarbonate roof. They love it! Plenty of natural sun. I do keep a heater on during winter and went plus cover the sunny side of the roof during summer. The only thing I would recommend is: they need to be acclimated to the condition. You said it will be warm but best time to start is when in the 70 and go through the summer. Keep plenty of water during warm months. Some humidity is good but too much is bad. I would maybe get humidity monitor too.
 

JLcribber

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Thanks @Hankmacaw for the warning! That really helps. I will do more research and see if this is a feasible idea. I hope it is, but I am such a worrier that I don't even know if I could ever relax if they weren't right beside me all the time! I worry enough as it is.
@JLcribber I would do that too. Wow! I am actually trying to get my financial future under control and start saving to hopefully buy my own little homestead and maybe start an animal rescue. It's a long way off, but having a huge aviary is a dream of mine. Along with a cat and dog and horse and every other kind of animal habitat that I can possibly afford to safely provide! Needless to say, the research for THAT big dream hasn't even begun yet. This project is definitely something I want to try.

Maybe even with a small space, I can find a way to keep some spots dehumidified or even completely separated from the rest in the greenhouse, though I imagine that would be very difficult. I may see if I can get in touch with some of those bigger greenhouses and ask about it. I was reading that there are ways to reduce the propagation of fungus, but it's so hard to imagine and I don't want to jeopardize my little ones.
Thank you both for your responses!


It depends what kind of greenhouse you want. There are 4 of those pyramids at the conservatory. Each one is a different environment and ecosystem. One is a desert environment. One is a rainforest. One is a temperate forest. One has a lot of flowers and exotic type plants. Many different temperatures and humidity levels. The desert one is dry as a bone.
 

Distaff

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If money were no object, I'd build a huge tropical green house. Monstera, ficus, tree ferns, palms, bananna trees....
There would be big pools for fish. I grew up within walking distance to the Victorian style Smith College green houses, and loved spending time there. No charge, if the place was open, you could just walk in, and usually had the place to yourself. Amazing.
 

100years

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@G.B. That's awesome! That really helps me feel better about the prospects for this project. What kind of walls do you have? I think with the polycarbonate walls and roof, I'd need to install some mesh all around their area to make sure they don't get confused and run into the walls, and I will need to devise a way to give them some full outside exposure when the weather permits. That's where I thought about finding a way to attach a large pre-fab chicken coop, though I guess I could just put the birds in their big flight cage for that, actually. It's all so far down the road that I'm sure it will change a million times between now and then. Ideally, they'd have a way to just access an outside area on their own anytime they wanted, but making that work is difficult for me to envision. There will definitely need to be some modifications so that they get good ventilation, since the greenhouse will likely just have 2 roof vents and 2 on the walls (like the way skylights and louver windows open--good air flow, but not a whole lot of it).

and @JLcribber it would be starters for spring vegetables and I assume he will grow tomatoes year-round, as well as some of the other typical spring/summer veggies. We eat tomatoes like they're going out of style. I don't know how humid it would need to be, but I doubt he'll be doing anything tropical or sub-tropical. Just keeping us in fresh produce as much as possible during the cold months is the goal, I think. So it would be a warm but not necessarily humid environment, I think.

@Distaff Those Victorian greenhouses are so gorgeous. It would be so amazing to look out into my backyard and see something like that. I am a big tree person. I actually stop frequently to hug them when I walk home from my neighborhood bar on those occasions when I have a little too much to drink. Flowers and rolling pastures and streams and oceans are great, but if you put me in the middle of a rainforest I would be happy as a clam (until I got eaten by a giant poisonous beetle or carnivorous plant). Living in Kentucky, we have lots of greenery and trees in the environment, pretty much everywhere, but I'd love a bit more humid and warm climate year-round. Winter is so depressing! I hope this greenhouse endeavor can grow with me and become a haven during the cold seasons. I found a good, high-quality and economical model of greenhouse that has lots of options for expanding, so who knows? Maybe in 10 years I'll have a massive greenhouse and aviary! I'm certainly keeping animal rescue, sustainability, self-sufficiency, and sanctuary for all living creatures on the top of my priority list for the long-term future, so even if I never manage to pull together a great retirement, I'll be happy just having all that life around me!

Thanks you guys for all your comments. I'm getting really excited about making this work. If anyone has any other words of wisdom or thoughts on things I need to be cautious about, please let me know!
 

G.B.

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The walls are tin that was insulated and re- apholstered the structure is solid (we used metal studs instead wood to build a skeleton). Roof is poly. I open doors(solid set (closest to them ))to went. I also mist during summer. I keep plants (succulents) with them. Keep in mind some plants are toxic to birds (tomato leaves).
 

100years

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10/16/16
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@JLcribber @G.B. This is so helpful! Thank you! I think I'll see if there's a way I can either segregate the problem plants from the birds or segregate the birds to a separate, large section in the back or near some of the vents. I'm very excited to get started on this. Now I just have to wait until my boyfriend decides he's ready, lol.
 
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