Moving House with Birds
Moving the birds when you move house (UK) by Grant Donaldson.
When it comes to moving house, many bird keepers find themselves in a position where they leave the hobby to avoid the hassle of trying to shift a collection of birds, including the cages, aviaries etc that come along with them. There’s always the risk of losing valuable breeding birds due to the stress of moving them. Depending on moving dates it most often causes breeding seasons to be lost. Moving house is always an expensive exercise without the added expense of building new bird rooms and aviaries.
With an expanding family it was definitely time to move house. And I was definitely not prepared to sell my collection of birds! Having sold my house and bought a new one I unfortunately had a seven week period where my family and my birds would be homeless. The first challenge was to find somewhere to keep the birds (yes I sorted out somewhere for the wife and kids to stay too). Having sold off a few spare birds to reduce numbers I had 20 splendids plus two pairs of Java Sparrows, and was lucky enough to convince my Dad to keep them in his garage for a few weeks. He is an ex bird keeper himself so I think he secretly enjoyed having birds in his life again for a short while.
The seven weeks soon passed and I was able to get my birds back with me, albeit they had to live in a garage for the first while at least. It was late September that we moved into our new home so the plan was to have a new bird shed built and breeding cages complete before the start of the 2014 breeding season.
Having decided the position to build the new shed, the first step was to decide how big it was going to be and check that I wasn’t going to require planning permission etc. In the UK most bird rooms are typically garden sheds fitted out with cages, flights etc but it is always worthwhile checking if you need permission, especially if you are planning a reasonably large structure. Drawing out my thoughts helped me decide on a layout 6m long x 2.0m wide. Once fitted out with cages this would give me 10 breeding cages roughly 1.0m long, 4 cages for holding young birds and also a small internal flight approx 2m x 0.9m. I decided that I wouldn’t erect an aviary as from experience I knew that sparrow hawks could be a big risk in my area, and Splendids can scare very easily. I decided on the location for the shed and prepared the foundations it was going to sit on. As the floor will be timber I chose to use paving slabs with concrete blocks on which the suspended floor would sit. This meant that there would be a space below the shed floor, big enough so that vermin wouldn’t make a nest below as I would still be able to see below if required. The builder in this case would be myself and a mate, Big Willie, and luckily his dad happens to be an electrician, so all bases should be covered.
Next, Big Willie was able to make the bases and frame of the shed. This was a relatively easy task for him as he is well used to working with timber, having built several houses in the past. The inside face of the shed will be lined with plywood to give me a good backing to build my cages against and this also helped stabilise the structure so we could get the frame squared up and fixed. The studwork will be insulated to give some protection against the cold and a breather membrane applied externally. The roof is timber as well though this has a roofing felt finish to stop water seeping in, verge boards will be added later to finish the roof and secure the felt around the edges. A work colleague had a spare window from his house after doing some home improvements, so this was gratefully received and fitted to the front elevation to give some natural light and ventilation.
The outside of the shed will be clad with vertical timber linings to give a reasonably attractive appearance so as not to upset the wife or the neighbours. The external now complete it was time to build the door. This was built from spare off cuts of wood from building the shed. Self adhesive draught stripping will be applied to the perimeter at a later date to try reduce any potential cold draughts that might affect the birds. The inside of the shed was painted white to reflect as much light as possible. The next job was to get power into the shed. A new supply was taken from the distribution board and fed through to the shed. This was connected into a double socket and also the controller for my lights which are operated on an automatic dimmer. This is maintained to ensure the birds have enough light in winter so that they can feed and keep healthy through winter but is rarely used in the summer months.
Now that the shed is wind and water tight I could begin the cages. I used the same style of cages as my previous set-up as this seems to suit the birds and makes it easier to manage them. Two shelves were built which would form the bases and then supports were fitted that would also allow a divider to be put between each cage. The cage fronts themselves are just timber frames with mesh and a door for access. The nest boxes are fixed in place year round though they are removed and disinfected at the end of the breeding season before being blocked up for the winter.