The pigeon is a social bird that loves sunshine and free flight. What better way to accommodate these characteristics than to build an outdoor aviary? A pigeon aviary can run the gamut from elaborate to ordinary, yet any well-planned and -built aviary should allow for maximum exposure to sunshine, stay dry and draft-free, and have horizontal space for free flight and vertical space for owners to enter, sit, stand and enjoy the experience.
Locate your aviary in a spot accommodating the best view of it while also considering the needs of the birds and your neighbours, too. Pigeons coo quietly, but nevertheless, they do make noise. They have poor lowlight vision, so a bright location oriented to the south is preferable. They enjoy sunshine as well as rain, so make sure your aviary is open enough to let it all in.
Size the aviary so its large enough for free flight and for you to walk in. It is recommended that flight areas for pigeons be at least 4.5 m (15 feet) long, 1.8 m (6 feet) wide, and 1.8 m (6 feet) high to accommodate a dozen birds. The shelter should be taller than the flight area, as many of these birds will seek out the highest place to roost for the night. If you really want to enjoy your birds, build it large enough so that you can sit down on a chair or a bench inside the aviary and be a member of the flock.
Predator-proof the aviary with welded wire mesh. You need to keep out cats, birds of prey, rats and raccoons. That means it needs to be built sturdily and sealed completely with wildlife-proof mesh with openings of 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) or smaller. Chicken wire openings are too large, and avian wire isn't sturdy enough.
Build the floor on a concrete pad, pavers, wooden planks or bare ground. It should be easy to keep clean, provide good drainage, and protect against rodents and predators that will try to dig or chew their way in. Unless the floor is concrete, the entire bottom of the aviary should be lined with hardware mesh -- 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) openings or less -- to keep rodents and predators out. The mesh should be covered by wood, earth or rock, as standing on wire is harmful to the birds' feet.
Cover the aviary with clear, corrugated plastic roofing material. This will allow ample light through and keep predators out. Slope the roof to prevent rain from pooling on top. Leave at least some of the roof as mesh to let sunlight and rain in and increase air circulation.
Mount shelves as high as possible for roosting and for nest building, and add some regular perches or natural branches. A platform with a rim, mounted about 90 cm (3 feet) above the ground, is a good place for food and water. Provide a shallow pool for bathing. Nest boxes can be purchased or built along with the aviary.
Build in a small safety porch, whether inside or out, to protect your valuable birds from escaping when you open the door to feed and water them.
During the summer, provide shade cloth to keep your pigeons out of the direct sun. The size of an aviary is relative to the number of birds you plan to maintain. Check with the county planning department for planing permission requirements before you build. Do not use kitty litter for flooring as it contains chemicals and can be too dusty. If a safety porch is not practical, make the outside door 1.2 m (4 feet) high, as pigeons fly upwards and will not get out -- or hang a piece of material over the door to prevent birds from exiting.
Tips and warnings
- During the summer, provide shade cloth to keep your pigeons out of the direct sun.
- The size of an aviary is relative to the number of birds you plan to maintain. Check with the county planning department for planing permission requirements before you build.
- Do not use kitty litter for flooring as it contains chemicals and can be too dusty.
- If a safety porch is not practical, make the outside door 1.2 m (4 feet) high, as pigeons fly upwards and will not get out -- or hang a piece of material over the door to prevent birds from exiting.