BARKS from the Guild Spring 2014

Page 44


One for the Birds Aviaries not only provide mental stimulation but are an ideal opportunity to train birds while surrounded by distractions, says Lara Joseph

An aviary provides an outlet for natural behaviors 44

BARKS from the Guild/April 2014

Š Can Stock Photo


viaries are large outdoor enclosures designed to give birds space to fly, walk, learn and explore in a naturally occurring environment. Providing an aviary in which to train birds is an important form of enrichment for them. Birds, like other animals learn, from their environments. Birds with behavior problems might scream, pluck, or resort to nesting behaviors. Conversely, birds in aviaries have an opportunity to interact with their environments in positive ways and can demonstrate positive behaviors to replace abnormal, repetitive, or undesired behaviors. An aviary improves a bird’s environment with its exposure to sunlight. Birds absorb sunlight, which aids in the distribution of vitamin D. The intake of vitamin D improves a bird's health and its feather quality, molting and regrowth. Aviaries also provide the ideal opportunity to train birds with distractions from neighbors, wind, other animals, noises, and shadows. Practicing recall with these distractions can increase the bird's focus during a training session. People who rent homes, live in townhomes, condo-

Aviaries are important for mental enrichment

miniums, or apartments that have to conform to association rules might not have the authorization or space to have an outdoor aviary. So a few of the options available to people with limited indoor or outdoor space are enclosed porches or patios, enclosing small outdoor areas, maximizing available indoor space, modifying cages into flights in an unused room, and using PVC pipes to create an aviary. PVC aviaries can be built for less than $100. Birds that are unfamiliar with aviaries or live primarily indoors might benefit from a slow introduction to the aviary. The bird should consider the aviary to be a positive experience. If the bird shows any signs of fear in its vocalizations or body language, immediately return to the point where it showed signs of calm body language and build up from there. It is important to remember to positively reinforce calm behavior with each step toward the aviary. During the summer, it is important to reintroduce the birds to the aviary at a pace at which they are comfortable. Any attempt to rush the