Before you start:
This might seem like a fairly ambitious project, but don't be put off. The biggest concern with an aviary is making the structure bird-proof. Unlike other small buildings you don't have to worry about making it 100% weather tight.
This aviary is suitable for urban sections, but you will need good access around the building site during construction. The building site also needs to be flat before you start building.
2 x 3100mm posts*
2 x 2900mm posts*
59 meters of 50x50mm timber**
31 meters of 50x100mm timber**
2 x 4 meter lengths of 25mm by 25mm timber
*These lengths allow for 1/3 of the post''s above ground length below ground. The thickness of the post will not affect the plan.
** The quantity of timber does not allow for off cuts. Allow around 5% extra for wastage when ordering.
22 square meters of bird-proof netting
7.8 square meters of roofing material*
Galvanized staples and nails
Rust-proof hinges and a latch for the door
You will also need sheet iron or a combination of sheet iron and opaque ridged plastic for the roof. Traditional corrugated iron is problematic because of the gaps at each end which small birds could get through.
Laying the foundations:
A concrete pad will provide a solid base for your aviary. concrete will also lessen the chance that birds will be able to dig and squeeze their way under the walls of the aviary.
However, if you want your birds to be able to scratch around in the soil and take dust baths then you won't want the entire floor to be concrete. Instead it is best to have concrete only around the edges of the building platform and in the entranceway.
Before you lay the concrete, you will need to position the four posts. In our design, the aviary structure hangs off these posts and the posts provide the main structural support.
Mark out the building footprint on the ground with bio-friendly spray paint. The large rectangle should measure 1600mm by 4100mm.
The square in the front is the base for the entrance and it should measure 1000mm wide by 950mm deep. The entranceway is centered so that there is a gap of 1550mm on each side.
Dig the post holes, one of each of the four corners of the main building footprint. Insert the posts and fill earth in around them, fine tuning their position as you go.
Box up for the concrete by removing the sod and using boxing timber. Sand can be used to get a flat base.
The concrete should be at least 50mm thick, and should ideally rise slightly above ground level. Refer to our article All about concrete for more information. We recommend concreting only the edges of the base of the main aviary area.
While the concrete is still wet, insert anchor bolts into the base for the entrance. We recommend four bolts, two for each side, placed about 50mm from the outside edge of the slab.
While the concrete is still wet, attach the first pieces of the frame. Doing this step before the concrete dries will ensure your posts are in the right place and straight.
You will need a 4100mm length of 50x50mm timber for the rear on the ground which goes right from end to end. The two 4000mm 50x100mm beams at the top and the 4000mm 50x50 beam at the front leave room at each end for vertical corner beams in the next step.
Main frame -
The main frame of the aviary hangs off the four corner posts.
Cut two 2406mm lengths and two 2242mm lengths from 50x50mm timber. These will form the four upright corners of the frame. If you positioned the timber correctly in the last step then you should be able to nail them into position on the corners as shown.
Cut one 4000mm length and two 1500mm lengths of 50x50mm timber. Secure these horizontally so that the top of the beam is 650mm from the ground.
Install the 5 roof beams. The beams are made from 50x50mm timer and should fit perfectly if your four support posts are straight.
Install another set of horizontal supports.
Cut several lengths of 50x50mm timber in the lengths 550mm, 800mm, and 856mm to act as vertical supports. Most of this timber will be visible in the finished aviary so make sure it sits straight.
Completing the frame -
The complete frame includes a door and entrance way, plus some further supporting beams at the front of the aviary.
Construct two of the entrance wall frames. The outside of the frame is 50x100mm timber and the supports are 50x50mm.
Make sure the supports are positioned so that they are on the outside when the frames are in position.
Fix the entrance frames into position. Drill and fix the base to your anchor bolts if you have these installed.
With two lengths of 1000mm timber and two lengths of 1900mm timber (50x50mm) construct the door frame at the front of the entrance as shown.
Install the 50x50mm bracing timber lengths. The horizontal lengths will be fixed to the corner frame and to the back of the entrance frame.
Cladding, roof, and netting
Now that your frame is hopefully complete, you should be able to get to work making your aviary bird-proof.
Make sure the netting you use is small enough to keep in the smallest species of bird you intend to keep. Birds have a surprising ability to squeeze in and out of small holes, so talk to someone from your local bird club if you need advice. Even if you intend to keep only large birds you may change your mind later, so it is best to use finer netting than you think you need.
Attach the netting to the top two sections of the outside of the frame. Make sure no netting is placed over the door frame. Secure the netting in place with either galvanized or stainless-steel staples.
For a nice finish and to provide some limited shelter from the elements we suggest cladding the lower walls of your aviary with plywood.
If you have followed the plan then the plywood cladding will be 650mm high to line up with the first vertical beam.
If your site is prone to strong winds from a particular direction you might decide to clad the entire wind-ward wall with plywood. We have not show this option in the diagram.
The Roof -
Cut two 4000mm lengths of 25x25mm timber and attach across the top of the front and rear wall - effectively connecting the ends of the roof supports. This piece of timber will help keep the edges of the roof bird-proof.
Now cut your chosen cladding to size and install with roofing nails. The length of the cladding should be such so that it overhangs by 25mm at each end - out to the edge of the 25x25mm timber.
Building and installing the door
Your aviary should be largely complete by now, but you will need a door to keep the birds in and allow access to the inside of the aviary.
Ideally the door should be a snug but not tight fit into the frame, and it should match the style of the rest of the aviary.
The door design we suggest matches the style of the aviary by using plywood to the same height on the bottom of the door. This plywood, as well as the plywood at the top of the door, also helps to brace and strengthen the door frame.
Cut the timber for the door:
2x 1780mm lengths of 50x50mm timber
2x 890mm lengths of 50x50mm timber
2x 790mm lengths of 50x50mm timber
One sheet of 10mm plywood, 250mm by 890mm
One sheet of 10mm plywood, 590mm by 890mm
Assemble the frame of the door. Install the wire on the top two frame gaps first and then fix the plywood over the top.
It is very important to make sure the door is straight. Test it in the frame if necessary.
Install the door using outdoor-grade hinges and a suitable latch. Your local hardware store should be able to advise. There should be a small gap around the three sides of the door that do not contain hinges. This gap will help the door open and shut properly.
It is a good idea to hang some chains or rope from the entrance to the main part of the aviary, inside the door. This will help minimize the risk of birds escaping when the door is opened for people to walk in and out.
Try planting some small shrubs inside the aviary. You can plant larger plants if you keep them well trimmed.
Another alternative is to set up a cut branch for birds to sit on.
Make sure you care for your birds properly. At minimum they will need regular feeding and constant access to water.