Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Budgies in A Mixed Aviary Environment

Budgies in A Mixed Aviary Environment

Lots of people ask about housing their budgies with other birds such as finches or cockatiels. I have tried both and here are my experiences.

Food.

Some things to consider when thinking about having a mixed aviary is food and eating habits. Do they have different food? Do they eat each others food?

What I have always done is provide the aviary with a mixed seed diet suitable for all the birds. Birds will only eat what they want or like so if you provide finch seed, cockatiel mix and budgie seed they will only eat what they want. Yes, they do share each others food but I have never heard of anyones' birds being ill or having problems in a mixed aviary that has been linked to food sharing. I also know some people have more than 2 species sharing with budgies so that's more food being introduced too.

Nesting/breeding.

Ok, so you want to breed your birds. I can only give advice on colony breeding finches inside a mixed aviary as I have never had the experience of colony breeding cockatiels or budgies. I separate my budgies into breeding cages and have not bred the cockatiels as they are not old enough quite yet.

Finches are easily bred at the best of times. I supplied 2 wicker basket nests last year as I only had 2 pairs at the time. Overall it went well BUT what I did notice was that the budgies chewed the top off the basket and left a wide open area. I had to modify the nest until the finches had finished their clutch, but to prevent this from happening this year I am buying plastic finch boxes. This means the hole is small enough for the finches to get in but not the budgies and the budgies cannot chew it to the extent they did the wicker ones. As long as the hole is small enough the babies are protected from the other birds sharing the aviary as they cannot access the box.

How well do they get along if none are breeding/Bullying.

I have had my fair share of fighting and squabbling in the aviary but have learn a valuable lesson. I tend to find the problems are not with the different species picking on eachother but the same species!

A prime example I can give was when my finches were becoming battered and had bald patched on their necks. I wrongly assumed that it was the cockatiels as it had only happened since I introduced them to the aviary. I removed the cockatiels from the aviary and put them in a cage until I could see if it made a difference. I have a window in my aviary so one night when I was going out to do my last check I thought I'd have a look through very still and see what I could see.

The result shocked me. I saw a few finches hammering each other, really going at it and pulling bits from each others necks, that was my problem, not the cockatiels. I am by no means saying that the different species won't fight or pick on one another but sometimes the answer is not in the different species, but the same.

Aviary Size.

Sizing is crutial if you are considering a mixed aviary. If it is not big enough, they will fight, simple. There has to be room for each species to hide if the going gets tough. If not, bullying will take place and it won't be nice as there's no space for them all to have their own "bit". It would be very irresponsible to mix them when you know their isn't enough space.

Keeping mixed species in cages together.

I have never done this simply because of the space issue. There are exceptions to the rule and I'm sure some people have done without problems but I have not. If you were to do this I would say keep the soft billed together (canaries/finches) and the hard billed together (tiels and budgies) but contrary to popular believe budgies bully cockatiels and not the other way around! I would have no qualms in housing finches and canaries together at any age but would be very wary of budgies and tiels.

Soft billed versus hard billed.

As I said before there are exceptions to every rule. I housed 2 diamond doves in my aviary and they didn't even last a week before I had to remove them as the budgies were bullying them. If I had left them they would have certainly faced death.

How fast can they fly is also important. Finches are ok as they are super quick so most of the time, the budgies can't get near them. Canaries however are very slow so I wouldn't feel happy putting them into a mixed aviary unless it was absolutely massive and even then I would worry. Same with the diamond doves, they are not quick enough to move if they see a beak coming towards them!

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Kay Bell keeps and breeds pet budgerigars. Contact her
for help and advice via the Adorable Budgies Forum
http://adorablebudgies.co.uk/forum
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