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Thread summary:

Advice needed on raising birds in winter weather, cockatiels and parakeets, bird raising tips, referrals, climate controlled aviary, cage complex, building an aviary, good bird breeders

 
 
Old 10-12-2008, 09:18 PM
 
Location: SW MO
1,635 posts, read 3,446,724 times
Reputation: 1076

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Hi! My husband and I used to raise birds in southern CA. We raised some cockatiels and love birds but mostly parakeets. We loved it and we'd love to do it again in MO but have no idea what we'd do to get them through the winter. You see, we had bird aviaries and a fenced yard out in CA and we would still want to raise birds outside, if it can be done in the MO climate.

What would we need to do/build to keep them warm in winter? We have a small wooden playset that we're thinking of transforming into an aviary but we'll have to figure out how to heat it in the winter and yet make it where they could have fresh air in the summer. We can't find anyone raising birds in our area, which is SW MO, near Springfield/Branson. If we could meet other bird-raising people, we might be able to get their advice and maybe even go see what they have done. Since we haven't been able to find others in our area, I thought that maybe we could find someone here in the forum that would be willing to give us some suggestions.

Well, there ya go. Have at it...any suggestions? Tips, helps, referrals?

Thanks in advance if you have any ideas!

MrsG

P.S. In case you suggest finding a bird club to find breeders, I thought I'd mention that there are also no bird clubs in our area. Isn't that shocking? After living in soCal where they were all over, it sure shocked us.
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Old 10-13-2008, 08:05 AM
 
Location: In The Outland
6,023 posts, read 12,851,388 times
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I have a small conure and I live in northwestern Montana. It is a challenge to keep her healthy and happy. Of course you know that most parrots need to stay in their comfort zone. There are some types of parrots that can tolerate cold. There are Quakers and Ringnecks living in parks as feral parrots. If these birds can live in New York and Chicago wild outdoors then it shouldn't be too hard to raise them in Mo. If you want to raise delicate tropical birds then you need to keep them in a climate controlled aviary or cage complex.
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:36 PM
 
Location: SW MO
1,635 posts, read 3,446,724 times
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Thanks, rickers. I didn't know that Quakers and Ringnecks lived wild in NY and Chicago. I guess I never thought about it either.

Yeah, if it was just to have one bird, we'd definitely have it in the house but since we'd like to raise them, we would want to have them outside and climate control is what I'm looking for advice on. I know we don't get as cold as Montana and our cold is short-lived, comparatively but we couldn't live with ourselves even one night knowing our birds were cold out there.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:45 AM
 
Location: the AZ desert
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We had a small, separate aviary when we lived in NY. It was a freestanding building, not much unlike a huge shed in appearance, which we had built with its own insulation, air conditioning, heating, and fresh air ventilation system. We used a residential grade, built-in, vented kerosene heater for the heating. The key was that it was vented to the outside and the kerosene fuel was also on the outside of the building, so there were no fumes inside. It is the same system some use for their whole house heating, but smaller in scale. The building had an anteroom for entering/exiting, which included a sink for washing and a small area to change clothing in, with an additional set of doors which prevented drafts from getting into the main area. There were windows from the anteroom into the main area, so we could see the birds from there, before actually going inside the main room. There was a small, additional room off the side of the anteroom, which we used as a quarantine area; we placed heat and sun lights in there, at a higher per sq ft. interval than the main area. The quarantine room had a separate ventilation system and a separate exit off the room to the outdoors, (not counting the anteroom), where we installed an outdoor shower for further decontamination should the need arise. (It was bitter cold to shower there in winter, but it was there if we needed it nonetheless.) We did not have the foresight to build the exterior door of the quarantine room in a draft-protected manner and had to rig something up after the fact. Off the far side of the main area were large double doors which swung open to a completely fenced area, (the roof was fenced and part of it was covered with roofing to provide some shade), which we opened when the weather was nice enough for the birds to be outside. (Picture something like an indoor/outdoor dog kennel/run, like you would find at a shelter.) All floors were poured concrete, with drains, to facilitate cleaning and we had wired audio/visual baby monitor-type devices inside, where we could see/hear what was going on from inside our house. Eventually we added mini cams to some of the nest boxes, so we could monitor what was going on inside of them too; this played a significant role in our ability to leave the nest boxes undisturbed, except when necessary. We also had a separate sink on the inside of the main area along with a small counter, which we used for food/water preparation and bowl cleaning, as well as a freezer in which to store unused pellets and formula.

There was no way I would leave birds in an outdoor-only aviary there, regardless of the amount of heat I tried to pump in.

HTH.
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Old 10-17-2008, 06:45 PM
 
Location: SW MO
1,635 posts, read 3,446,724 times
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Wow! You had a serious operation going, CheyDee! I am so impressed! That must have cost a pretty penny, too!

You've shared some of the ideas we've had but there are quite a few we haven't considered, as well.
I must admit that it all makes perfect sense but causes me to wonder if we have what it takes. Whew!

I especially like the idea of a separate outside flight area to be used only in good weather!

So, tell us, please, what type of birds you raised! And have you thought of raising them again?
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:49 AM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,037 posts, read 8,496,482 times
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It wasn't inexpensive to build, but we did it over time so as not to feel the pain all at once. (I forgot to mention in my previous post that we also had a small generator, just in case we lost power.) It also wasn't inexpensive to maintain, with the cost of electricity, heating fuel, water/sewage, assorted trees and huge, free-standing branches, (ie manzanita), cleaning supplies, playstands, cages and nest boxes, (never seemed to have enough of those), cage materials, feed, vitamins and supplements, fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, toys, syringes, vet bills and microchipping, leg bands, record keeping supplies, etc. It was definitely a hobby and labor of love, not a profit making enterprise. It would take hours every single morning, 7 days/week to clean cages and feed - and that's not counting when we were handfeeding chicks and providing them with human handling/interaction times at a minimum of 4 hours/day each. It is also not counting stopping at the farm stands every 2-3 days for fresh fruits and veggies, hauling feed deliveries all the way out back, etc.

It may have been a little profit making, (but certainly never a get rich plan), had we opted to add finches and other smaller birds, which are not only far more prolific breeders, but are significantly less expensive to incorporate and to sell. Instead, we mostly stayed with the birds we truly love: macaws, (blue & golds, greenwings, militarys, Hahn's, severes), African greys, (Congos and timnehs), and for a short time, medium sulfur crested and moluccan cockatoos. We were drooling over the thought of a breeding pair of Hyacinths, but that never became a reality.

Would we do it again? No. It has been a couple of decades since we've done this. There would be a new learning curve, since I'd venture to guess that new things have been learned now compared to when we did it and it would be a huge expense to begin from scratch again. Since I am now retired, it would be way too much time/energy/money and it would not fit into our current lifestyle anyway. We are both very grateful for the time we spent in the past doing this. These days, however, we are quite content having a house full of pets instead.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:37 PM
 
Location: SW MO
1,635 posts, read 3,446,724 times
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Yeah, that's what I'm startin' to think, CheyDee. It might not work into our lifestyle again, either. I never thought of having an operation as big as yours was but we have such fond memories of our time raising birds and I was hoping we could find a way to make it happen on a smaller scale...but reality is that the basic steps are the same. We do have a guest room that we might decide to use someday but I'm concerned about our cats getting in there so I doubt it'll happen anytime soon.

When we raised our birds, we had cats but they were born after the birds were already there so they learned that birds were just a part of the family. Our pet parakeet, Pacer, was out of his cage most of the time and lived for 9 years with those cats and only once was there a close call. He flew right over one of the cats and the cat reached up to bat at him and scratched him. I saw it happen and could tell that the cat wasn't going after the bird...as a matter of fact, he even stayed laying down. It looked like a natural reaction. Anyway, we nursed Pacer's wound and he went on to live for another couple of years.

Thanks again for sharing your experience and expertise, CheyDee. Believe it or not, I think it was just what I was looking for.

Sorry, LindiJ...I guess you'll have to find another source for your parakeet purchase...at least for now. If you want advice before you get one, though, please send me a Direct Message. I have some suggestions for you. ; )

Oh...and if anyone does find a good breeder of parakeets, please let us know. We may decide to get a pet if we can get a young male.
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:41 PM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,037 posts, read 8,496,482 times
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A spare room is a perfect place for a small operation. Of course, they will invariably wind up spending time on the kitchen counter, table, and everywhere else then too.

I agree about the cats though. People have known to mix the two in the same house, but to me that is playing with fire and I strongly discourage it.

If your situation ever changes and you want to discuss this further please do not hesitate to PM me, since I do not always remember to check the pet section here.
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:33 PM
 
Location: SW MO
1,635 posts, read 3,446,724 times
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I agree with you, CheyDee. I don't recommend mixing birds and cats, either. I was home most of the time and have a way with being consistent in discipline so everyone behaves and stays happy. And like I said, the kittens were born in a house where the bird already lived so he wasn't a new thing for them.

I will definitely PM you if I decide to go ahead and have questions. Thanks for the offer!
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