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Dirt Floors vs. Concrete Floors for Aviaries

22058 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  BirdFanatic
I have 2 walk-in aviaries on concrete, and one large walk-in on dirt. I thought I'd share what I've found to be the benefits and drawbacks.

Concrete Floor:

- very easy to clean
- difficult for rodents to get in (though, they can gnaw through concrete so if you have a bad rodent problem, this won't stop them)
- provides birds with surface to wear beaks and claws down on - I've more than once witnessed birds scraping their beaks on the ground to grind them down a little.


- poor drainage unless you design it correctly
- if using concrete pavers (as I do), it allows for some drainage, but spilt seed and droppings can also fall down and create a bit of a nasty mess
- If you're slack on cleaning the aviary as I used to be (no longer), the spilt seed can build up and become home to pests like roaches. Gross!
Dirt Floor:

- provides a natural environment for the birds to forage in
- grass grows if you toss bird seed down and water the ground
- you can grow plants in it, providing cover for shy species like finches / doves / quails - this can be imperative for breeding purposes
- provides natural grit that rarely needs replacing for non-psittacine species.

- parasites like worms (eggs) live in soil so you'd have to worm regularly to get rid of these (but hey, you should be doing that anyway, right? :D)
- predators can get in easily
- toxic plants may take root, but if you're vigilant you won't get that problem.

A note on dirt floors - when building the aviary, sink wire mesh (approx 1cm or half inch mesh spacing - larger and mice will squeeze through) about 30cm down around the perimeter of the aviary. This will stop things digging in (or out) of the aviary. Alternatively if you don't plan to plant deep-rooted plants, lay down a base of wire mesh (connected at the framework of the aviary), then dump soil over the top, which will stop anything getting in (depending where you are - Australia doesn't have many burrowing animals in the suburbs, but places like Europe or the US will have moles and so on).

For mine, I got away with not putting wire mesh down beneath the soil because 3 sides of the aviary's 'plot' was surrounded by concrete - the fourth has some wire going beneath the earth. I still sometimes get mice in, but I just dump poison down the holes (making sure it's well down beneath where the birds can reach - I usually like to dig the hole out with a stick and put plenty of poison under, then LOTS of dirt back on top, and 3 med-large rocks in a triangle to mark where I've previously put poison so I know not to dig there (usually about 30cm deep) - also stops birds having a dig there. Kills the mice, and does it without risking traps for the birds.

I also have my entire frame resting on bessa blocks to stop the wood rotting on the damp floor. Make sure when you wire the underneath of the aviary, the mesh connects up over the top of these, so the holes don't permit animals to get in or out.

A benefit of dirt floors - bird-grass! Automatically grows if you toss some bird seed (or spilt seed) and water if for a few days. In Au. summer it's plenty hot enough for it to sprout by 2 days and the birds will eat all of it as greens. This is a reason why the dirt-floor aviary is my favourite - takes a lot of the hard work out of feeding them a good diet!

naturally growing bird-grass

Can see the concrete pavers beneath the steel aviary (budgies). Poor drainage, but solid foundation and easily cleaned.

Dirt floor - you can see the grass growing in the middle.
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Nice aviaries! :) I don't think I could live without my concrete floor though, I'm addicted to my pressure wash attachment and on a dirt floor, that would just make mud :D The plus side is, you can still have plants, you just have to put them in pots! That way you can also have a little control over the parasite problem too by using sterile potting mix and surrounding plants with pebbles if you want. I'm slowly working on a collection of bird safe plants. I planted a whole bunch of leafy greens and herb seeds yesterday, it's just a matter of waiting for them to grow :)


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Haha, I'd love to do that Aisliyna! But I have a young dog (18 months old) (the other dog, 4 yrs, won't chew them), so I'm cautiously planting a few planter boxes of birdseed and basil to test his liability to rip them up. I do have a fenced area where I could keep them safely I think though :)

BirdFanatic - I don't like suspended aviaries, I prefer having walk-ins because I like to be able to go entirely into the bird cage (I have a few tame ex-pet tiels that like to fly onto my head and shoulders but won't go near my hands). Plus the bigger the aviary, the better it is for photos! I built my dirt-floor aviary so I could fit my tripod and camera in there and take photos of the birds from one end.
lol mine is not small lol this is my first time ill show you a pic
this is my 54 square feet suspended walk in aviary like a bed room out side built all by my self with a little help holding the panels from my little bro and sis
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Haha, I'd love to do that Aisliyna! But I have a young dog (18 months old) (the other dog, 4 yrs, won't chew them), so I'm cautiously planting a few planter boxes of birdseed and basil to test his liability to rip them up. I do have a fenced area where I could keep them safely I think though :)
I completely understand. Luckily I can keep my pots inside the aviary away from the dogs. My problem is the bunny, he hops into the pots and helps himself! We do have one dirt floor aviary but a Currawong lives in it so he doesn't care about bird grass and welcomes the rodents! :D
My aviary is mixed, half concrete pavers and half dirt floor.

With the pavers I left one side with a slight gap and added edging pavers on top of the normal pavers. This created a gutter for run off while ensuring the birds didn't have access. Was a simple solution that didn't require any further digging or such.

I am not sure if I like the dirt floor yet or not. With 5 quail it gets a bit gross and they refuse to let any grass grow which is why I originally wanted half dirt. I think the quails do need some dirt though so I will probably keep it as is for now. We also have mesh on the base to discourage rodents and to date it is working well, along with the dog of course :)
I have suspended aviaries for the Lorikeets and also for my Princess, Princess Parrots can have a real problem with worms in a standard aviary. With all the other aviaries I laid concrete slabs. But before we laid the concrete I put a layer of broken glass bottles right across. Glass stops rodents cold. One of my aviaries though does not have glass right across under the concrete. My so call friend couldn't be bothered helping me break up enough bottles to put right across so it is only round the edges, which he said was all that was needed. Wrong, rat chewed through 3 inches of concrete in the middle of the aviary.

Where I live we get too many bush rats not to have a concrete slab under the aviaries. Also when we laid the concrete I made sure there was a slope so that the water could run off easily.
This is handy!

I'm currently trying to decide what to do about my aviary - the ground is currently crushed granite, which works fine apart from the mice getting through, and cleaning. The only cleaning method I have is the rake the seed etc up, which gets rid of much of the granite too.

So I'm trying to work out whether we should keep going with the granite, or concrete it. Against concreting is that we may move the aviary in the future - it doesn't get much sun, which is fine for summer but not for winter. It's also under an old Kurrajong tree which has recently started dropping branches left right and centre, and I don't want a big one going straight down through the aviary!

I can't believe I never thought to put wire under the granite! Only problem is I've witnessed the mice get through the wire of the cage, so I don't know how much good it would do. If I do decide to redo the granite though, it will be on the to do list!
Well we also get snakes around my place (carpet pythons - not poisonous) so they definitely help with the mouse problem. I've only seen a couple of mice lately, since I stopped catching the snakes and letting them go at the local park (still catch tiny ones because I know they can sometimes squeeze through the wire).
This one of the things I love about TB Guys and Gals :D SO many great idea's discussed freely and thoughtfully offered for others benefit . Way to go Makes me want to get a HUGE aviary only have to convince DH now:budgie:
take 16 cinder blocks stack them up on top of each other and make it off the ground like a mobile home we have no mice out here only beetles lol and a furry bunny who eats our grass every once and a while
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