Okay so I was at Clay County Fair and Mr. Davis has offered me an amazing pair of German Owls. The cock is a blue(or silver as my memory doesn't really serve me well at the moment) and the hen is a cream-shielded of course... Now, I want very much to get the pair, but I am worried about what to do to keep them.
If I do get them I have a cage that is really built for a rabbit, the wire spacing is (I believe) 3/4 by 1 inch and the bottom is 1/2" by 1". The total space is 2'W x 2'L x 1'H. That's the part that worries me. The wire spacing is big for a pigeon pair but the pens they are in now are much larger(1 1/2" and no crossover wire). However it is much taller. So here's my problem, I can have a cage 1' deep, 2' feet tall and 2' wide, or a cage like above. Either way would be temporary-but as far as temporary conditions go - a very long time. Eventually in the summer, I have plans for a flight pen/aviary that would have quail, and the pigeons in it. However, it wouldn't be made until summer. So that gives them about 9-12 weeks in a small cage. It just doesn't seem fair to the birds, though I have been told by quite a few that they wouldn't mind.
Seeing as I want them really bad, I was also going to ask about the flight pen plans. So if you feel up to reading further, please do so and share your thoughts. To start out the dimensions would be about 8 feet, by 6-8 feet, with a height of perhaps 8 feet. The top would be the "almost-black" corrugated(sp?) plastic roofing. It lets through roughly 60-70% light I believe (again memory fails me...
). The wire (easy now, I realize everybody has preferences) would be 1/2" by 1/2" Vinyl Coated Welded Mesh. With the added vinyl to the wire, the actual opening is little more than the 1/4 inch stuff, and quite a bit sturdier in my opinion. The bottom of the pen would be grass, Amazoysia for it's hardiness and low upkeep. With a little concrete pond as a bath. The bottom 2 1/2'-3' of the pen would be a piece of metal tin. With a 1"x6" at the bottom and one at the top of the tin as well. This is what (usually) prevents pacing in the quail species. And that is where the pencil fell from my hand. I don't really want to encourage breeding for as long as I can, so you'll have to tell me if I need a nest box or not, and as for feeders and waterers I need ideas there as well. I was leaning towards a feeder mounted on the wall that would have only one side open with feed that I could fill from the top whenever needed. As for a waterer I am leaning towards a hanging automatic fount (which would require piping-ugh!) about an inch above a little platform in a corner. To prevent digging with the other pens, we've always put a substrate around the bottom of the pen. I could run wire about a foot down, or I could place river rock around the edge about 4 inches in depth perhaps.
Also, I am wondering if this pen should be built with a safety catch. Should I have two doors? I am leaning towards yes because of the quail possibility, but again, your thoughts are asked of. Another thing I wonder, is that of perches. Because this is so large (and because of only one pair of pigeons), I am wondering about the possibility of realistic perches (hanging branches, fiberglass limbs...) rather than the more traditional perches. Another question is that of planting in the pen. Would plants like palms/palmettos, fountain grasses, smaller clumping-bamboos, and perhaps dwarf shrubs be okay in the pen? I ask because they are sometimes "spikey" and could theoretically hurt a bird.
And the question of a nest-box... I have many questions on this factor. How many should I plan for if I really don't even want to breed but for about 3 times in this pair's life? Also what type of box do the German Owl's prefer? Can I make this box like a chicken nest box-as in me having access to it from the back/top as well as the front. I ask this because, if I have the boxes inside the safety area with the front being up to the wire of the inside, I could then access it from my area rather than go inside the pen. Not laziness so much as curiousness,
Other questions are these:
-As a general rule, how much time can I expect them to spend on the floor/ground area?
-How well do these birds fly?
-How well do these birds home?
-What type of breeding should I expect from them, much or hardly any?
-Purina Mills Green/Gold pellet is okay for them, what else is there?
-What fresh or dried foods do they like?
-Do these birds like toys?
-How well can I tame an adult pair of these birds?
-Will being cooped up in a small area be okay for the time they'll be caged?
And there's more I'm sure... But I'll give your eyes a break for now, thanks for reading...
**I should probably note-I was offered to buy the pair. I say offered because the pair wasn't (I'm guessing here) intended to be sold at the show... sorry for the confusion...