Just Looking For a (Family) Home
When you do "state of the art" and it just doesn't work for you, where do you draw from next?
That was the question we faced shortly after completing our first large, common aviary in 1994. This aviary was designed based upon information gathered from trips to multiple psittacine aviculture facilities as well as utilizing the most authoritative books available at the time.
With the Slator Aviary we had twice the space needed to cage our three adult pairs of parrots, with room left over for a few "flights of fancy." We had determined that the cages backed onto a central aisle could be easily serviced. Four by four by eight foot cages were commonly accepted as "breeder cages." Because we intended to let the parents rear their offspring, we built new cages a couple of feet longer to accomodate the anticipated "families."
Almost immediately we had serious privacy issues. Our extra-large breeder cages didn't provide the room we wanted when the parents had two or three fledglings with them. The cages -- once we increased the visual barriers -- were too close together. By 1996, we were in the planning stage again.
Dr. David Phalen recommended keeping breeder birds in a state of perpetual quarantine; i.e., housing each pair at least 100 feet from any other caged birds. We made this a goal, prioritizing new habitats for wild-caught Blue-throated macaw pairs.
By 1997 we had designed and built what we call Proto '97 when we acquired the Fantasy/Prophecy wild-caught pair. Alone in the pasture. With a 10 foot by 10 foot flight that was 20 feet long, it was big enough for a family to stay out of each other's way. The nest box and feeding station were protected inside an eight by ten foot metal enclosure with a concrete floor. The entire structure stood five feet above ground.
When the Bogie/Bacall pair became available in 2001, we prepared a grant proposal for the consideration of Norah and Bruce Broillet in funding both acquisition of the birds and construction of a habitat for them. Because of the amount we were seeking, we looked for economies everywhere. The cost for the pair was fixed. We focused on the new habitat. We looked at Proto to see where we could improve as well as economize. Our observations indicated we could make the flight eight feet high and eight feet wide without compromising normal usage of birds or keepers. The length stayed the same. Then we raised the height from the ground to six feet. While we eliminated venting on one side, we increased air flow by 100 percent on the rear wall of the enclosure.
We are renovating both habitats with an additional one inch by two inch welded-wire skin attached to the original four gauge caging featuring two by four inch openings. This is being done to exclude wild birds. The next aviary will be much like Broillet Aviary, except that it will be enclosed within a framework covered in the lighter wire with smaller openings. This will help exclude the wild birds as well as four-legged predators.
Following Dr. Phalen's recommendation on spacing we have more than enough acreage to build the remaining habitats that we will need. May we name one after you?
Dot and Damon Slator provided (non-tax deductible) funding for construction of the Slator Aviary in 1993. They are the parents of Laney Rickman.