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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so I have been lurking and searching some past threads to the point where I feel I might be ready to ask a half way informed question. Well, maybe...

So here's the deal. I want to get 6-8 homers for a family fun project with my 6 year old son. He's really fired up about the idea. We're not looking to do any racing or long distance stuff. Just a little hobby and a chance for him (and me) to learn something. I have never raised any kind of bird before.

I picked up a small chicken coop that I'm going to convert to a loft. The goal here being to keep it low cost and use existing material. The building is 4'x4' and 5' tall. It has a "man door" and a fairly large window. The roof is shingled and the floor is 3/4" plywood. Here's a pic.



Here's my plan. I'm going to place it in the back yard with the window facing South for max light/warmth. I will add some 1/4" hardware cloth over the window so that I can keep it open in the summer (I live in Michigan). Opposite the window, (N side) I'm going to cut a hole to an aviary. I will likely use similar hardware cloth for the aviary. I'm thinking 3' off the ground, and 4'x4'x4'. I will also add a small access door on the aviary from which I can fill a feeder (I will cover the feeder with a small piece of particle board).

Next to the aviary, I'm going to cut a hole for a "trap door" with bobs that will allow the homers back into the loft, but not out. I will also

Inside the loft I'm just planning to rip some 2x4s to about six inches and screw them to the walls for perches. Maybe if I have some success I will consider adding a nesting box at a later date. I will also add a small shelf with a water dish and grit pan. I know I'm going to have to provide fresh water at least daily due to our cold winters.

Questions:

1) Can I leave the door to the aviary open 24/7? Or should I close it off at night to keep out the cold?

2) Should I cut a couple slits, maybe 2 inches high and a foot long on the E and W side (covored with hardware cloth) to allow for more air circulation?

What else am I missing?
 

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I would definitely close the aviary door to keep the cold breeze down in the winter in MI. I'm sure others will be along and let you know the other stuff you asked, because I really don't know. Do you have any birds yet? It sounds like you have done this before, thanks for the pic. min
 

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They will need good air circulation, but should not be in a draft of strong air. The aviary should be on the sunny side, south or southwest so they can get outside into the sunshine when they are not being flown. That would still let light into the loft. Those windows could open up to the aviary. It should be closed up at night to keep the cold and wind out. Usually the air vents at the bottom would be on the front as would the aviary. Most don't want a cross draft, but in different situations.................You could always add the others that could be opened or closed as needed.
I know others will be in to give you lots of pointers of how they have done their lofts. Some of the people on here have done wonderful jobs on their lofts. Welcome to Pigeon Talk. Keep us updated as you go along. We love pictures of lofts and birds.
 

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North side brings cold wind. Not a good idea to position there. Put the aviary where it is sunny like east, south, etc., like Jay3 said. Pigeons don't mind cold much, but they don't like draft. You can close the door at night and open it in the morning. Obviously you must have vents then. The goal of the loft is to keep it dry, relatively warm with low humidity. They like comfort just as we do. You can read this about certain temperature:http://www.pigeonbasics.com/articles/article13.html

Other info about loft and fittings: http://www.pigeonbasics.com/articles/article40.html
If you want the rest of the info: http://www.pigeonbasics.com/articles/rpracontents.php
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all. Some very good points. I will definitely put the aviary on the S side. That makes sense. I should be able to add the vents relatively easily. Will do that too. And no, I have never done this before. Pretty much everything I have picked up has been by searching this forum.

Rollers would be cool. Maybe someday... For now we're going to go with homers. My son likes the idea of taking them to Grandma and Grandpa's farm (40 miles away) and having them home back to the loft. I do not have birds yet. I'm shooting to have everything set to go for when the weather breaks. Hopefully I can add the birds by March.

I thought of another question. Am I better off putting the trap door for them to return to the aviary or the loft? Does it matter?

Thanks again for the kind welcome.
 

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Window

You can also use the window for the entrance to the avairy-Easy to open and close. Just a thought.
Jack
 

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You can also use the window for the entrance to the avairy-Easy to open and close. Just a thought.
Jack
that is what I was thinking too...lol.. you could put one of those california style aviaries where the window is and you would just have to open the window to let them in the aviary. when you wanted to fly them, the aviary serves as the landing board and entrance to the loft, because you could open the wire part of the aviary like a door. like in the pic in the link... but much smaller of course.
http://www.breakawayloft.com/lofts/Lofts/images/06.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good stuff guys and gals. Thank you.

I will definately use the window as an access to the aviary. It will save me from cutting another access hole in the coop. It will also allow me to have the window and the aviary both face S and provide sun/warmth.

I'm thinking that I will want to adde a "trap door" to the aviary as I won't be flying them all at once. This will allow birds to enter but not exit. Adding it to the aviary instead of the loft will also make my job easier.

I'm thinking that a 1" by 12" rectangle cut out on the W (prdominant W wind) side (near the bottom) is in order to add airflow.
 

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Good stuff guys and gals. Thank you.

I will definately use the window as an access to the aviary. It will save me from cutting another access hole in the coop. It will also allow me to have the window and the aviary both face S and provide sun/warmth.

I'm thinking that I will want to adde a "trap door" to the aviary as I won't be flying them all at once. This will allow birds to enter but not exit. Adding it to the aviary instead of the loft will also make my job easier.

I'm thinking that a 1" by 12" rectangle cut out on the W (prdominant W wind) side (near the bottom) is in order to add airflow.
well in a 4x4 loft, all you can put in there heathfully is 8 birds, you would want to fly them as a flock, as a small number of birds will be a target for birds of prey(BOP), better saftey in numbers. If you want to raise young then you would not be flying anyone anyway as they will be on eggs and or babies. but that loft seems too small for any breeding going on in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
well in a 4x4 loft, all you can put in there heathfully is 8 birds, you would want to fly them as a flock, as a small number of birds will be a target for birds of prey(BOP), better saftey in numbers. If you want to raise young then you would not be flying anyone anyway as they will be on eggs and or babies. but that loft seems too small for any breeding going on in there.
Point well taken. Thank you.
 

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You know you can't get adult homers and expect them to home for you. You have to start with babies. If you get adults they can only be prisoners. If you set the adults free they will likely return to the previous owner or die trying. min
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You know you can't get adult homers and expect them to home for you. You have to start with babies. If you get adults they can only be prisoners. If you set the adults free they will likely return to the previous owner or die trying. min
Yes, I realize that. Thank you.

I have a line on some month and a half old younguns.

Thought of another question... If closing the aviary at night, is it acceptable to run the aviary all the way to the ground or is it always advisable to have it elevated?
 

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Yes, I realize that. Thank you.

I have a line on some month and a half old younguns.

Thought of another question... If closing the aviary at night, is it acceptable to run the aviary all the way to the ground or is it always advisable to have it elevated?
best elevated, damp ground and rain soaked floor = diesease and fungi, it stays dry off the ground.
 

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Some do have it to the ground, but then you do have to contend with what spirit wings has said, besides having to have to predator proof it so that nothing can dig under. There are many animals who will do that and they can kill your birds. Also, hard to disinfect the ground, and there are some diseases that can live in the soil for a long time. I would love to be able to just walk into my aviary without having to step up, and then have boards strategically placed to walk on, but thought it safer and cleaner for the birds not to do that. Now I know some will come in and disagree, and that's okay. Just my opinion.
 

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You can see pics of my BirdHouse and aviary in my photo album. Mine goes to the ground. It has wire on the ground covered with sand/gravel mix. I leave the slide door open almost all the time. I only close it if the temps get into the teens as the aviary is wrapped in clear tarp for the winter. My little trap door is a converted bluebird house. I didn't train my two rollers to use it they figured it out on their own. My two large Kings, however, cannot fit thru it. :p
 

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Debbie, that has to be one of the cutest lofts I've seen. It's just adorable. I'm jealous! But how do you keep the floor of the aviary disinfected?
 

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Debbie, that has to be one of the cutest lofts I've seen. It's just adorable. I'm jealous! But how do you keep the floor of the aviary disinfected?
Thank you, Jay3! I don't disinfect it. I just scoop poo every now and then add some DE and stir up the sand and/or add more as needed. I put a bale of straw-still tied-in the aviary and the birds love to get on it and pull pieces out and take 'em inside. Keeps 'em busy.

BTW . . .you have a great looking loft and some very beautiful birds!
 

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Thanks. And the bale of hay idea is great. I'd love to see them pulling out the pieces. I have a hamper in my loft to hold the hay, but it has holes in it, and they don't always wait til I dole it out. They steal it through the holes. LOL. I mean it, your loft is just so cute. I love the Christmas lights. Very homey and cozy! You did a great job!
 

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Thanks again Jay3! I do love my little chicken/pigeon BirdHouse!

Wildflush, you can keep the water from freezing by making a cookie tin heater. My DH cut a hole in the side, put in a light socket with a cord and put a 40 watt bulb in it. Put the lid back on and plug it in. Set your water container on the tin. I have not had water freeze all winter! :D

Got the idea from www.BackyardChickens.com
 
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