Birds in an Aviary
bird net, available at most pet stores. They are useful
for catching a bird that is loose in the house, but not
much help for catching a bird within the aviary.
a bird in an aviary is much more difficult than catching a bird
in a cage. It has taken me a couple of years to acquire this
skill. Fortunately, Tom is a natural. Tom has very quick hands,
and if I flush the bird to his end of the aviary, he usually
can nab it within a few attempts.
a bird in a cage is fairly simple, assuming the cage isn't too
large. Usually, it just means chasing the bird into a corner,
where you can gently get a hand on it (removing obstacles like
extra perches first helps). But catching a bird in an aviary
is a daunting task.
of all, I do not try to catch a bird without a good reason,
as this is a very stressful activity for all of the birds. But
when it must be done (nail clipping, separating feuding birds,
hospitalizing a sick bird), it must be done.
general guideline is to work at catching the bird for no more
than 5 minutes at a time so that you don't unduly stress out
your birds. Some people like to try to catch their birds in
the dark, when they are reluctant to fly, with the assistance
of a pen light to locate the desired bird. Supposedly, you can
just reach out and nab the targeted bird. I've never tried this
approach because I am too afraid of inducing chaos in a totally
dark aviary, causing birds to fly into walls and obstacles and
potentially injure themselves (I have in the past accidentally
startled the birds at night when it was dark and it incurred
a panic in the aviary that I don't ever want to repeat).
technique I've heard mentioned but have never tried is to spray
the desired bird with water from a spray bottle. When they are
wet, it is more difficult for them to fly and they can be caught
more easily. I would not try this with a sick finch, however
(but sick finches tend to be pretty easy to catch anyway).
birds in an aviary is much easier if there are two people. This
is because an aviary tends to be a large place and if you are
on one end, the birds are sure to be on the other. But if there
is one person at each end, there is nowhere left for the birds
to go. While they may land somewhere in between, their natural
instinct when startled will be to fly all the way to the other
end. If the desired bird is on my end, I attempt to grab him.
If he flies to the other end, Tom is there waiting for him.
Try to enlist the help of another, even if that other person
does nothing other than usher the bird back to your end.
some of the perches before attempting to catch a bird will make
your job easier. In particular, moving perches in the middle
of the aviary, so that the birds must land on either end is
helpful. Removing perches that will be in your way when trying
to catch a bird is also helpful. I like to keep the sundecks
in the aviary, because they are easy spots to catch birds on
- when a bird lands on a sundeck, I quickly but gently drop
my hand on top of it and pick it up. The floor is also an easy
place to grab birds, especially if you can usher them into a
corner, where they are more easily trapped.
of the biggest distractions when catching a bird are the other
birds in the aviary. Assuming we are trying to catch a specific
bird (as opposed to catching all of the birds), we usually try
to isolate the desired bird as much as possible. We do this
by pulling down one of the shades that divides the aviary while
at least half of the birds are on the other side of the aviary.
This accomplishes two things: 1. it prevents other birds from
getting in our way and reduces stress for some of the birds;
and 2. it shortens the length of the aviary giving the desired
bird less space to escape into.
tactic we have used in the past (before Tom became so experienced)
is the divide and conquer method. An old bed sheet serves as
the divider. Tom stands at one end of the aviary with the sheet.
I usher the birds toward him. When the desired bird is about
there, I alert him and he raises the sheet to prevent it from
flying back to the other side. If possible, he lets the other
birds escape to the other side, so that only the desired bird
is trapped on the other side of the sheet. Then he gradually
moves the sheet in toward the wall, so that the bird is confined
to a small space. I then takeover holding up the sheet while
he grabs the bird in question.
in the chaos, a bird escapes from the aviary into the house.
If it is the desired bird, this is a good thing, as it is relatively
easy to catch a bird in the house using a bird net. We've found
it too difficult to use a bird net in the aviary because the
perches obstruct your ability to maneuver it. (Tom doesn't even
use it in the house). Most of the time, escaped birds only want
to get back into the aviary and they just fly along the aviary
walls, trying to find a way in. Opening the door for them may
be all that is necessary. Sometimes, they fly off quite startled.
Usually, though, they land nearby and sit still trying to make
sense out of their situation. To avoid injuries to birds loose
in the house, never try to catch birds while there are unscreened
windows or doors open. Shut doors in adjoining rooms to keep
them as confined as possible. Make sure there is no water in
kitchen sinks and close bathroom doors especially. Turn off
ceiling fans. Keep other pets, such as cats and dogs, out of