If your birds are kept in an outdoor aviary, it will need heating in the colder months. There are several things you can do to make it as cosy as possible. The covered, interior section of the aviary should be completely weatherproof, and you can insulate it too. Following the same basic principle as house insulation, construct walls with a gap between the interior and exterior. This cavity can then be lined or filled with polystyrene, bubblewrap or a similar insulating material. Polystyrene sheets covered with plywood are another good option.
During the winter an outdoor aviary needs heating if birds like this pied Canary are to survive
Pet finches do not like draughts, so even in the warmer months they need a place to escape the whims of the weather. Lots of cosy nesting boxes and ledges in the sheltered or enclosed area of your aviary will help the birds keep warm.
In a mild British winter you can get away with these precautions and nothing else; but in a colder snap, only the addition of extra heating will guarantee the survival of your birds.
To keep the birds safe as well as warm, you need to make sure the heat supply is non-hazardous:
- Never use an open fire (a garden brazier or barbecue pan, for example). The smoke and fumes from these can kill birds (something to bear in mind if you’re using said items in the garden and the wind is blowing in the direction of the aviary).
- Don’t use a house heater, whether gas or electric. These are not just fire hazards, they also release fumes which are toxic to the birds.
- Camping stoves are no good either – toxic fumes are the problem once again.
- If there’s no electricity in the aviary, seriously consider supplying it. Otherwise you might struggle. One option is to put hot water bottles in the covered section of the cage. These will lose heat overnight, but should be enough to keep the finches comfortable. Always cover the bottles to prevent the roosting birds getting scorched. If you have an electricity supply in the aviary, a powerful bulb or two (120 watts is good) or a ceramic heat lamp (up to 250 watts) will do the job. These will need heat-proof covers to prevent the birds burning themselves.
- You can buy purpose-made aviary tube-lamp heaters, or wall-mounted heaters, in various sizes. Some of these come with thermostats, which is ideal – when it dips below a certain temperature the heater will kick in. 5C is a good setting: any higher and it will be kicking in all the time in the UK!
- Carry out regular checks on any appliance you use, to make sure it’s working as it should.