Birds and the art of flying has always been a fascinating subject for human beings. The study of birds and their nature has allowed us to create massive flying objects that take to the skies and give us a taste of what it is to be like them. The different species and colours of these beautiful creatures has been, for long, been a part of human society and keeping birds, as pets or as a hobby, is extremely common in the modern world.
Aviculture, as it is known, is not just about breeding or maintaining birds as a hobby or to study them, it is also used as means of preserving rare species and creating awareness about them There is a huge difference between keeping birds as pets and keeping them as part of hobby, with the latter carrying a lot more work and meaning than the average pet bird. That said, the world of aviculture is so big and broad, using a single rule is never enough to prescribe a way to maintain these beautiful creatures.
For centuries, humans have kept birds for a variety of reasons - as pets, as working birds or even as a means of food. How and why you choose to make them a part of your life will, of course, is your prerogative but to have the life of another creature under your purview comes with responsibility and awareness about them.
Judge your Interest
Do you want to keep some birds, at your home, as pets? Do you want them to do some kind of work for you, like keep a check on crop-damaging insects or birds? Or, do you want to rear birds as a means of providing food for your family or even economic reasons? You need to pick the level of interest you have in birds and why so, to know what kind of birds you'll need and how to take care of them. While a lot of people want to get into aviculture as a hobby, few know enough to get started with the right kind of set-up or the right kind of bird, leaving a lot of things to chance and learning on the job.
However, if you are interested in rearing birds, then you need to be convinced of your reasons to get into it and also of your reasons to spend so much of your spare time doing the work it demands. The best place to start is the Internet or even the local library. Just head on down and grab hold of some information about the hobby, about keeping birds in general, and about keeping rare or exotic birds that are beautiful to look at. There are many organizations that publish websites and books with bushels of knowledge on the subject - a fantastic place to start off. From falconry to keeping parrots, you will find information on all things bird!
The next thing you can do is find someone who's already keeping birds, as pets or as a hobby, and get to know more about the experience. You might find aviculturists around your area and heading down to see what they do and how they do it will give you a better idea of what the hobby entails. If possible, work with them for a bit and learn more about keeping birds safe and healthy, without causing problems for you, your family or the people around you.
The Aviary at Home
Talking to local experts will help you get a great idea of the kind of setup you need to maintain your own birds. So the next thing to do is find a space where you can build your aviary. You should have a basic idea of what species you might want to rear, by now, and how much space you will need to make that happen. You need to get the required licenses to maintain an aviary, predator-proof your design and construct the aviary to withstand all weather and temperature influences. You need to know where you'll get your water from, for the birds in it, and where the water will flow if their containers/pond overflows.
Neighbours complaining about noisy birds will bring the authorities to your home so make sure that you have all those angles cover as well. Rodents can also be a major issue when you've got birds and bird-feed all around the aviary. Make sure you have a rodent barrier in place to prevent them from chewing through the mesh and coming right in. If you look around, you might even find second-hand aviaries that just need a bit of mending, which have been discarded by owners in exchange for new ones.
Choosing your Bird
The kind of bird you pick has to be based on more things than just your preference. Your bird needs to be comfortable with the environment and weather conditions you are going to keep it in. While they will stay inside the aviary, you cannot bring a bird that's completely unaccustomed to your area and expect it to thrive - it won't! Contact your local aviculture experts or an organization that can help you find out the different species you can keep in your aviary.
There are many birds that might even require a license to keep, like all predatory birds, while others may have extremely specific requirements owing to their rarity or special habits. The more you find out about the birds, the better chance you have of picking a species that is likely to survive for long. If you are planning to breed, then you'd better find a pair that's unrelated to each other! The best way to do this is to buy one gender from one breeder and the other from another breeder.
Buying your birds locally will also help you see them before you make the purchase. This ensures that you can check for diseases or problems before paying the money. Once you have your bird, you introduce them gently to your aviary and allow them to get comfortable with the surroundings in the safest and least stressful manner possible. Get this aspect right and you will be on your way in getting your love for birds and aviculture hobby underway.