In mid-2015 we moved house and so I had to make a new living space for the birds. Eventually I will build a custom bird house outside, but until that time comes, the birds are housed in the attic. It's not the biggest of rooms, but it's light, bright and fresh.
The room has opening windows on two of the walls allowing plenty of natural light and fresh air inside. The room is closed off from the stair case, keeping any dust and dirt upstairs.
Cages / Flights
I currently have 6 italian-style breeding cages measuring 120x40x44cm.
They can be divided giving 12 cages measuring 60x40x44cm.
During the 2015 season I used all 12 breeding cages, although normally I would only prefer to use 6-8.
The cages sit on an aluminium stand with wheels and a shelf, which I made myself.
I have 3 large flight cages for resting and young birds. I made them myself from powdercoated (anthracite) aluminium and 4mm UV-reflective PVC. They also sit on a stand with wheels, making it easy to move them around for cleaning purposes. They measure 170x60x60cm each. For the young birds I place the perches on the left and right side of the flight cage - this encourages them to fly from perch-to-perch, getting more exercise and developing better.
Food / Water
Each cage has one or two drinking bottles. These drink bottles work on gravity and don't have a ball bearing in them like common hamster bottles. The nipple is stainless steel so it can't be chewed. I find these work very well, birds take to them very easily and it means they can have a constantly clean supply of drinking water.
Be careful though, don't just expect birds to understand how to use them. I always give bath water and other drink fountains to new birds, until I am 100% confident they use them. I have a plastic carrying tray which is very handy when it comes to cleaning and refilling the bottles.
My bird food is kept in large white bins with a removable lid that partially lifts. I bought these from the Ikea and the are perfect!
The model I use holds around 25kg of seeds.
My nestboxes were custom made by a friend. They are made from 18mm multiplex with a sliding lid. They measure:
Outer dimensions: 37x20x20 cm
Inner dimensions: 33.5x16.5x16.5 cm
After each breeding round I gives the nest boxes a proper clean with Halamid D (chloramine T). I then spray them with an anti-mite spray (Ardap) a few weeks before using them.
The large windows have outter shutters which I can roll down and black out the room if I want to. This allows me to control the light and thus mimic the season as and when it suits me. In the resting period the birds get around 10 hours of light per day. During the breeding season they get between 14-15 hours per day.
There is a large 58w full spectrum TRUE-LIGHT lamp to illuminate the room. Although the birds get plenty of light from the windows, this lamp offers them that little extra during the darker days. It is connected to an automatic dimmer by Quiko.
The dimmer also controls a small dimmable bulb which allows me to mimic sunrise and sunset, whilst also acting as a night light.
Air quality and circulation
Along with the 4 windows which I can open for fresh air, I have added an air purifier. The birds are kept in our house, so this is very important for own health as well as the birds. The air filter has a carbon pre-filter, True-HEPA filter, UV filter and an ozone-free Ionizer.
The air purifier came from www.progenion.nl and the model is PR-950UV. It has a digital display allowing me to control the fan speed, UV mode and a timer function. It really is a great bit of kit and I would never be without it now. The air smells fresh and inviting and the dust is really minimised and manageable.
During the breeding season (at least when eggs are present) I limit the air purification to avoid lowering the humidity too much in the room. Low humidity (and high) is a common cause of DIS (dead in shell), so naturally that has to be monitored by the various hygrometers in the room.
As nesting material my birds are given fresh willow branches and leaves. They also use paper from the bottom of the cages. I put a small layer of wood chips in the bottom of the nest box, and also a small bunch of tobacco twigs (they are supposed to help prevent mites).