The cages measuring 100x50x50 cm and 125x60x60 cm, below which there are four large exercise cages of 125x125x70 cm.
The cages are own design. The under and upper parts and the side ends are made of multiplex. The plastered wall of the room is the back of the cage. The partitions are frames, made of mahagony. In the frames I can put a sliding wall of multiplex or plexiglass. In this way I can made cages from 50 cm up to 5 metre. In the breeding season pairs are in a cage from 100 or 120 cm.
Every cage has a drawer covered with a layer of wood chips, for instance beech wood. The drawers are situated 3 cm above the bottom and are provided with 4×4 mm iron mesh. In this way dust, chaff and dried-out droppings fall between the chips, landing on the bottom below. On each side of the drawers there is a space of about 1 cm for the dust to settle down and remain lying on the floor. The advantage is that the dust is not swirled up each time the birds fly from one place to another. Breathing dust-laden air can be detrimental to the birds’ health (and yours, of course).
Once a week the dry excrements, dust and chaff are removed from under the drawers using a vacuum cleaner, and the chips are replaced with a new, clean layer. The vacuum cleaner is provided with a special, home-made, flat extraction nozzle. Thanks to this, the drawers do not have to be removed every week; this can be done at longer intervals.
In the plexiglass front screens several openings have been provided, for nesting boxes, food trays and plastic drinkers. In addition, each has a small 10×12 cm (4×5”) hinged door. The plastic hinges are fixed with quick-fix glue and the doors are kept closed by means of a magnetic catch.
To hold the water bottles, a wedge-shaped slot has been provided. The bottle, which has a conical neck, is introduced from above and slides down until it firmly fits in place.
In each cage there is a TL lamp of 7 Watt, color 84. The lamp is fitted in the midle of the ceiling against a side of the frame. Birds who doesn’t like the lamp light can sit at the other side of the cage.
There are perches on either side of the cages, parallel to the side walls, at a distance of at least 10 cm (4”) from the walls and extending to about 3 cm from the front screen. Each cage has one such perch on the left and two on the right. The one on the left is fixed into a vertical support, while the support on the right slopes down (parallel to the back wall). The supports are taken from 32 mm diameter broomsticks, into which 12 mm transverse holes have been drilled to receive the perches. The supports are fixed onto the ceiling at some distance from the back wall, by screws turned in from above; for added strength of the joint, wooden cleats have been glued onto them. The perches are fixed into the supports at one end only, the other (front) end is free, so that one has an unobstructed view of the birds.
An aviary may be planted with some conifers; reeds and bamboo are favourites too. These can either be planted in the soil or in pots. Water them at regular intervals, but do not use rainwater from a barrel, for this may contain bacteria. Another possibility is to plant bushes of broom or heather here and there. A breeding cage can be furnished with greenery against the back wall, or a canary box can be fixed behind leaved branches or other greenery.
The birds prefer to build their nest in their own natural way, but don’t forget to fix a number of half-open nesting boxes as well; the birds will also use these if they are broody. Many Australian estrildid finches are hole-nesting birds and require a closed nesting box with a round or square entrance 3 to 5 cm wide. Inside the nesting box of the Gouldian Finch there should be an elevated part from which the parents feed the young that lie in the lower part of the nest. African waxbills are provided with a half-open nesting box hidden behind some artificial greenery as they like to hide away. First spray the inside of the nesting box with a suitable product to kill and keep out red and black mites. People sometimes also put dry herbs like camomile in the nest for the same purpose.