Jeannie | BirdTricks | Parrot Training Blog

Aviary Placement

 January 18th, 2010
Posted By:

Hyacinth Macaw

Ok, you have finally picked out the perfect type of outdoor aviary for your parrot to spend his days basking in the sun and taking in all the outdoor sights and sounds….let me just say Congratulations on making one of the most important decisions you can make for your pet parrot!!!!

I’m sure you have some toys and some really exciting ideas for decorating your birds new “outdoor” world. You are now completely excited and just can’t wait for the day it arrives and you can put it together and get your bird into it.

Before you go ordering all those exciting toys and decorations please take a moment or two to look around and think very seriously about where you are going to put your new aviary. Whether you bought a huge enclosure or just a larger cage you can move around in your yard think very seriously about how birds live in the wild…they are always looking up!!! They always know what is over their heads in the sky and the trees around them. Please do this before placing your aviary in your yard.

Blue Fronted Amazon Parrot

If you live in a place that has tons of space or in a city condo or even a close neighborhood think about what you have seen around you when you are outside yourself.

If you have a deck without a roof, think about how hot it can get in the direct sunlight, think about the trees in your yard (IE: do they drop branches, leaves, pine cones, etc.). If you live in a condo and you have a small deck, look up towards the roof of the building, does the rain run off the roof in sheets onto your deck when it rains? Can your bird get out of the sunlight into shade when it needs or wants to? Which direction does the wind come from the strongest when those sudden storms kick up out of nowhere?

If you live in a close neighborhood, how close will your aviary be to your neighbors bedroom window if you put it in that corner of your yard that has the best morning sun and late afternoon shade?

In many areas smaller yards are now surrounded by privacy fencing of one sort or another. If you have this type of yard do squirrels, cats, raccoons, or other like animals tend to climb onto the top of the fence and walk around the top? Can these animals jump from the fence to your aviary? Depending on your aviary choice, these animals may not be able to reach your parrots, but they sure can scare the heck out of them! Will your perfect spot be under a tree that drops branches when the wind gets strong?

Hyacinth Macaw

If you have tons of space and a huge yard out in the country, do you have many predatory birds in your area? Do you have night time predators that may attempt to get at your birds cages overnight? And, don’t forget those high winds that kick up out of nowhere! The really strong winds can actually take the roof right off your beautiful aviary!

Blue and Gold Macaw

Even if you are just buying a different cage to keep outside for your bird please take all this and so much more into consideration before you set it up and put your birds into them.

Your birds will need both sun and shaded areas to get to at as much of the day as possible. In hot areas of the country you will need to think about making sure your birds can cool off during hot hours of the day. You may want to think about some sort of misting system for the aviary in hot areas.

Placement of your new aviary will take a lot of serious thought from you. Please spend some extra time and look at where you are going to place your aviary from every angly you possibly can, and then think even harder and longer! It pays off in the long run.

Something you really want to consider is if you live in an area that gets snow! We had to remove the roofing off our aviaries this winter because of snow accumulation! Three of the roofing panels on one aviary were damaged in about three hours from heavy snow fall. We will have to put them back up again in another month or two to get the aviaries ready for the birds to go back outside when the weather warms up enough. And for those that think “it hasn’t snowed that much here in twenty years” well, that’s what we thought when we put ours up this past summer!

Also if you live in an area that has springs or streams running through your property, think about what “could” happen if you got heavy rains for days on end!!! Could the stream possibly overflow it’s banks and reach your aviaries?! That could be a disaster! And it does and has happened. People have lost not only their aviaries, but their beloved birds as well! Flash floods are horrible and they do happen. I have not seen this for myself, but, I have heard of a horrible situation this past year where not only were the aviaries partially if not totally destroyed, but the birds inside them were killed!

I can’t stress to you enough that placement of your aviary is critical. Especially if it is a permanent placement. For those of you using one you can move around you don’t have quite as much to worry about, but, for those of you putting up permanent ones, think about how cruel mother nature can be at times before you place your birds environment on your property.

Mini Macaw

Even though most of our beloved pet parrots are tropical in nature, they come from a history of being able to get from one place to another when they need to during different times of the day on their own. Our pets rely on us to provide this for them. All that expensive lighting advertised as “indoor sunlight” for your parrot is never going to replace the real thing. Putting your birds cage near a window for more sunlight is not even close to direct sunlight either.

There are safe ways to transport your bird from inside your house to it’s new outdoor aviary. One very inexpensive way is to get your bird used to going into a “pet carrier”. Such as a dog or cat crate. You can get one cheaply at either Petsmart or Petco or look online for an even cheaper possibility. All these new and exciting things take time to teach your bird to get used to. Winter is a great time to start getting your bird used to going into a carrier. You can teach them that they can get their favorite treat inside the crate and you can take them for a short ride in the car and return home safe and sound and happy. Remember, birds in the wild get tons of different sights and sounds every hour of everyday. As captive pets, it is up to us to provide this for them in order to make them happy and to give them the stimuli they need.

Bird Aviaries and Their Usage

 October 29th, 2009
Posted By:

Our aviaries will be used as full time cages during non-winter months. Here in Virginia we can’t keep the birds out all year round due to a few cold months and “very” cold nights. Once we get the birds into the aviaries we will be keeping them in the aviaries all the time. We won’t bring them in at night, although, we do have indoor cages for all our birds in case we should have “severe weather”. Currently we keep over half of our birds in their cages outdoors on either a deck up against the house or in an enclosed porch. Since putting the cages outdoors earlier this year these birds are so much healthier and happier. Their colors have improved, they are now getting proper sleep at night and they are also eating much better.

Three of our birds are well over 12 years old. One, is over 30 years old. All three have been housed indoors in cages with lighting most, if not all, their lives. All three of these birds became lethargic and basic perch potatoes. None of them played with toys anymore. And their desire to communicate with their people withered. Their eating habits were horrible. Two of the birds became very aggressive.

Angry Amazon

Angry Amazon

Considering what living indoors with limited space and not much stimulation for their lives, I don’t blame them for getting angry at the world around them.

Since putting them on a pellet and fresh food diet combination these three started to come out of their shells. They started to communicate more and occasionally play with toys in their cages. The truly amazing change came when we moved their cages outside and gave them natural daylight.

Just moving them out to where they have natural daylight hours and sleeping hours they wanted to try new foods with interest, they became interested in toys and foraging on the bottom of the cages. The transformation was amazing to watch. The birds all started talking to us and to each other once again.

The new feathers they were growing in after molting out old ones had amazing color!

Beautiful colors

Harlequin Macaw

All these changes brought us to the decision to get outdoor aviaries. So we did our research and found the ones we thought would fit our situation the best.

Our intention for the aviaries was, and is, to use them as full time housing that allows our birds flight access and lots of exercise. We will use them  as 24 hour housing unless the night time temperature drops below 38 degrees at night. As long as the daytime temperature is above 45 degrees the birds will be outside during the day at least. Just the benefits of the fresh air and the sunlight to our birds is well worth having them outside and not right in the room with us.

The amazing benefits of having to exercise to get to their food and water, and the ability to fly from perch to perch or forage on the ground will be more than we could give them indoors. The new sights and sounds of being outside and hearing the wind, watching birds and all the other sights and sounds of nature are amazingly beneficial  for them.


Blue throated macaws

If you stop to think about what a wild bird encounters in just one afternoon in the wild, our “caged” friends live like hermits in comparison. We can not possibly offer them anywhere near as much as nature itself. The safest way to do this for our birds is to put them in outdoor aviaries. This not only gives them the benefits of nature, it also keeps them safe.

For those that can not afford aviaries, just putting your birds cage outside can be extremely beneficial to your bird.


Amazon Parrot

But, please remember that there are so many dangers to a caged bird without supervision. Just to name a few, cats, dogs, and strangers. Please remember to always make sure your bird can get in and out of direct sunlight. Never leave a caged bird in its cage in direct sunlight. The bird can overheat very fast.

As I am sure you have heard many times before, when it comes to cages for birds, “the bigger the better” keeping in mind proper bar spacing for the size of your bird.

Never leave a caged bird unattended outside.

Aviaries Aren’t Just For the Birds!

 October 1st, 2009
Posted By:

All of our birds lived in the house with us until this past summer. We put 6 of the birds cages outside on two different decks. Our choice to do this was for the birds health. None were ill, they were lacking proper daylight and proper sleeping habits.

The oldest of my birds, the 35 year old Blue Front Amazon, Storm, spent some time earlier this year in Florida with Jamie and Dave Womach. During his time with them he had the advantage of spending time in an outdoor aviary at their house. He absolutely loved it. This was the beginning of our thinking about getting outdoor aviaries!

We had acquired two macaws for free flight training and were teaching them and ourselves this awe inspiring process. For outdoor flight training we took a trip to Utah to free fly one of the young macaws and I watched Storm fly outdoors free for the first time since he came to live with me 12 years ago! He loved it and so did the baby macaw! I was completely hooked!

When we returned home from Utah we also brought with us another baby macaw we call Bonnie. She was very young and going to be trained for outdoor free flight as well. When we got home we now had bird cages all over the place!!! Because Storm had spent time outdoors while in Florida I moved his cage outside during the day…it was still too cold to leave him out at night. We live in the mountains of Virginia.

After having Storm out during the daytime for a while, I put all of the smaller birds in their cages out on the deck full time! The birds seemed to flourish. Their colors came back brighter than ever. One of the birds was a severe feather picker and since he was moved outside he has completely stopped his feather picking.

Soooooo, now we had 5 large macaws still in the house, under “proper” lighting. It was heart breaking to see these majestic birds sitting in cages “in the house”. We had seen the advantages show up in all our smaller birds. But, we just don’t have enough deck spacing for all those cages to go outside. So the search for aviaries began. We looked at so many different types of enclosures and got so confused it is now kind of funny!

We spent about 4 months searching and searching for just the right outdoor aviaries for our birds. We have twelve birds all together. The birds range in size from a little parakeet all the way up to the mighty Hyacinth Macaw. Four of our birds are less than a year old and 4 others are less than 3 years old. The other 4 range in age from 12 to 35 years old. All of them are hookbills and except for the parakeet they are all South American Birds.

Then, we made the decision of which ones to get! Whoohoooo! Now to order them and have them delivered! That was a major feet in itself. But with the help of two terrific friends we figured out what we needed to order. See, it’s not just the aviaries themselves you need to order. You need to decide what type of feeding system you want, how many and what size perches you are going to want to “start off” with, what type of swings, etc., etc..

Then this really big truck arrives and you need to get the “HUGE” boxes off the truck! Unless you have a very large driveway or a really big yard, this could be very complicated. We needed a bobcat tractor and four men to get all those wooden boxes off the truck!

Because we were having the outside of the house refinished at the time we put the boxes in the driveway…..

Then we had to wait for the staining of the house to get finnished! Boy did that seem to take forever, especially with those aviaries sitting in those wooden boxes in the driveway! Finally the house gets done and now we begin to open the boxes! There are pieces everwhere!!!!!!

The men putting the aviaries together had to figure out how they went together and then move them to the front yard for placement and assembly! Now the anticipation begins to build for us!

OH NOOOOO, we now need to go find and choose brick to use as a foundation for the aviaries so the sit level…luckily we only had to visit three places before we found ones we just loved! Thank heavens it didn’t take as long to find the bricks and it did to pick out which aviaries!!!!!!!!

While we were picking out bricks the men were back putting the aviaries together in the front yard! Oh man this is soooo hard watching them go up and knowing it is still going to be a while before the birds can get into them! Then the man from the place we bought the bricks from had to come out and help figure out how many bricks we needed to order. That took a few days for an appointment! But, once he came he went right back to his store and ordered our bricks! They would arrive in about a week!!!!! Man! This is taking soooooo long!!!!!

Early one morning the following week I was awoken by this rumble in the driveway and one of our dogs barking! The bricks had arrived!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally I thought, we can get these aviaries together! Well, that was three weeks ago and the process is still in motion!!!!!

The front yard now looked like a bomb went off in it!

The anticipation is going to kill me I thought! The following week the men had all the aviaries about in their proper places and put together, sitting on the grass, waiting for the digging to start for the placement of the blocks! Then, one day they started digging! That was last week.

Then it started to rain, and it rained for days off and on…no more digging…all the work just stopped for about a week! Then, at the beginning of  last week the men showed back up and in what seemed like no time at all they got “one” wall dug for the aviary that needs the highest foundation wall!

And then, more rains. Work stops for another half a week! Man, how long is this gonna take? Are we ever going to get these birds into the aviaries before it snows?! Ok, a bit dramatical, but the whole process is now going on 5 months!

Yesterday I got up from my desk and looked out the window to see how far the workers had gotten and to my surprise one of the aviaries was sitting on it’s foundation! Safety enclosure included! It’s not bolted to the foundation yet, but, it is up and on it’s foundation!!!!!! WHOOOOO HOOOOOO

I couldn’t take it any longer! I had to get a bird into that aviary! lol  So, I took the one bird that had watched the whole process happen and walked with him into the aviary! He was so excited. Storm had been in the ones in Florida! He knew right away what it was. When I put him down in the grass he made this almost crying sound! Then he looked up and around! He had to get to the walls! He had to climb in that aviary! So, I put him on the cage part and up he headed! Because of the height of the aviary wall, I had to stop him and take him off.

Amazon Parrot

I sat with Storm in the aviary and played with him for about half an hour! He was in heaven! My husband was in the aviary with us taking pictures and normally Storm would have not been so nice to John, but, he was so happy to be there Storm even posed himself on my shoulder looking pretty just for John to take a picture. And when I put Storm on the ground again, he just walked around and never once showed any aggression towards John!

Amazon Parrot

The workers spent today getting the foundation started under aviary #2! It looks like they will have that one done tomorrow if the rain holds out!

Since the workers left about 45 minutes ago Storm has been yelling, talking and screaming to be let out and brought into the aviary again today! I guess I am gonna have to take the old boy in for another jaunt around the aviary!!!!!

These aviaries are from Cages by Design.

Living With More Than One Bird… More Like… 11!

 July 2nd, 2009
Posted By:

Harlequin Macaw

My name is Jeanne Harrington. I am 45 years old. I have owned and raised parrots since I was 20. I have also raised, bred and trained dogs since I was 18.

As for the dogs, I raised and bred Labs for 10 years and trained them for hunting and obedience. I currently own, breed, train and show three different types of terriers. I am working on training a dog for therapy/assistance. Currently I own a kennel of my own and I work for another. I have 15 dogs and I work with another 22 dogs. I also care for 4 live stock guardian dogs.

Now, for the birds. I currently own two blue front amazons, a blue & gold macaw and a parakeet. I live with a total of 11 birds all together. I feed and care for all the birds here.

The list of birds is one amazon that lives with my mother, a parakeet, mitred conure, yellowed collar mini macaw, male eclectus, yellow nape amazon. The macaws are blue & gold, blue throat, harlequin, greenwing and hyacinth.

The other bird is one you may have heard of here on bird tricks, his name is Storm. He is a blue front amazon that is 35 years old.

There is so much I could say about each bird, but, let’s save that for later.

Harlequin Macaw

I have worked in three different locations caring for and hand feeding birds. I have worked with problem birds and sick birds. Luckily most of the illness I have dealt with has been environmentally caused and I was able to correct it with time.

Living with all these birds and dogs is constantly entertaining and challenging. Most of the birds have and have had problems that have been worked on and some that need a lot of work yet to come.

Due to an illness I was disabled about 9 years ago. I have not worked a “regular” job since. My life has totally gone to the dogs and birds! When I got sick all of my animals suffered along with me. As does any person, my life is constantly adjusting to what is going on.

I was incapable of taking care of my animals for quite some time. My own birds suffered tremendously. The youngest of my own birds is a 12 year old blue front amazon named Petrie. Then there is Niko, he is my blue & gold macaw he is about 18, and then the old man Storm. All three have problems and all 3 are getting help, finally.

With the help of computers and friends I could never replace I am once again on a path of success, along with the inevitable set-backs with my birds and those I care for. I hope we all can learn from these new experiences. And I hope we have a great time doing it.

Thank you for listening and learning along with me.