The present structure succeeded the birdroom which we had purchased and erected during the biting winter of 1962/63, as described in the About Us page and from the outset was externally of a completely different design. We had been discussing a design for some considerable time and had basically decided on the proportions of our "dream aviary" - the ultimate design - and when we went on to consult our close friend Jack Robertson, those dreams began to take on a mantle of reality.
He told us that he could acquire a set of old garage doors, which had run on a track and which he felt would make
an excellent front to an aviary, once set on a frame.
He went on to suggest a place where we could buy timber from a stock which had been fire-damaged, and the three of us visited the yard and in the course of a few trips we purchased all the timber we required, at between 4d(1.66p) and 6d (2.5p) per foot. Over the next few weeks, Jack built us our aviary, in sections and various friends from Sunderland BS rallied around to erect it on an arranged day. Luckily, the genius of the weather lent his support and the structure was put up in dry weather, which continued until we had finished felting the roof.
The overall dimension of our "little palace" were 21' x 7' x 6' 9"high,approximately, designed to comply with the local government regulations of the time which insisted that such outbuildings be of less than 1,000 cu.feet in size. This was not a problem to us; the new shed was 50% larger than its predecessor and we were sure that it would meet all our future needs. (We did also, of course, have two outside flights, as before.)
Sufficient for our needs? Yes, certainly for the next few years, but when we read in our local paper that the regulations had changed we were ready to take advantage of it. We had noticed that our hens, in particular, did not use the outside flight except in damp or overcast conditions, so resolved to replace one of our outside flights with a flight room which would be an integral part of the aviary.
Again, we called in the cavalry, in the name of Jack Robertson who advised us and undertook to do the skilled work involved, as long as we provided the labour, as usual .
This time, we decided to set the aviary on a concrete floor, which we tiled, and the wooden (marine plywood) walls and roof were set on top of three courses of brick.
The dimension of this room were 8' x 8' x 7' . It provides very generous accommodation for up to eighty birds with our present system of perches but we feel sure that it could comfortably accommodate more, if necessary.
The front of the flight room largely comprises two large glazed doors, each of which opens. This means that the birds have almost as much access to the outside world as they would with a standard covered flight.
The reality again more than surpassed the vision, and the enjoyment that the birds derived from the new accommodation made the work worthwhile.
Additionally, the overall change in the internal structure changed the atmosphere in the aviary, and this was reflected in certain problems in the breeding season, which immediately followed; this was probably simply because the stud had not had time to properly resettle into their colony-routine. By the next year, normal service was resumed
But not really for long. Within a couple of years, we were made aware that parts of the aviary had been rotting for some time, and which our own rather amateurish efforts had failed to correct. We realised that a much more radical repair was essential. Jack again to the rescue !
The relevant parts of the back of the aviary were rebuilt and we took the opportunity of replacing the breeding cages and the inside lining of the aviary.
Jack built for us a set of forty four breeding cages, using heavy grade plywood for the floors, with three inch front rails of timber and the floors suspended from the ceiling on aluminium strips, which also take the hardwood partitions - easily removable to allow larger flight/stock cages to be used for show preparation work, etc.
Having heard many good reports about plastic cage fronts, we placed our order with Kent cages.
Once one has overcome to slight disadvantage prompted by them being less rigid than wire fronts, they are a boon - for one thing, they never rust !
It is important, however, to ensure that they are set perfectly level, to ensure that the doors fit snugly and the catches are efficient!
Of course, with the passage of time signs of wear and tear do appear, but they have the advantage of being easily repairable using plastic plant labels and Araldite (or similar). They have served us well now for a number of years.
......And apart from normal maintenance work, with some slight structural repairs, this brings us more or less up to date. Looking back, we could have saved ourselves a lot of work if :-
a) regulations originally would have allowed us to erect a larger structure that that we were first permitted.
b) we had been able to raise the necessary finance to allow us to build a brick, or similar, structure
c) we had plumbed in water and drainage, something we have been promising ourselves for years, so that it is not necessary to carry buckets of water to and from the aviary. Who knows , we may get round to it in 2004, but advancing years have taken their toll on our joints so digging the trench will be a problem.
However, all in all, our buildings have served us well and hopefully will do so for some time to come.
Update - February 2010
In the last couple of years, we have completed repairs and renewals to parts of our birdroom roof, Added to this, at the end of 2009 even additionally found time and energy enough to manage to re-decorate most of the inside, painting all breeding cages with white emulsion, treated with Duramitex (from stock - now no longer available?). We have yet to paint the three flights, but hope to tackle this over the next few weeks
Update - October 2011
Earlier this year, John had his garage re-roofed and, at the same time, we had the birdroom repaired and re-felted - by experts for a change! Hopefully, this will see an end of the structural troubles, but sadly John died on 25th April. Happily, my wife Pat consented to become my partner in the fancy. The partnership officially starts in January 2012 - delayed because I wished to show as Herring Bros until the end of the show season!
Pat has become an active fancier and is a valuable partner with her own insights. Additionally, her contribution has proved a great boost to my general enthusiasm. Partnerships can be so fulfilling!
Recently, I have repaired and repainted the front of the birdroom; an on-going necessity in so old a structure!, With the market for surplus birds which do not possess a European passport so sluggish at present, we are beginning to find something of a problem in space for our surplus
We have therefore increased the flight accommodation inside with a 'double-decker' flight at one end .
The sacrifice of a cupboard to make this space has been worthwhile. So far, only the top flight is in place, but the 'lower deck' will take only a few hours and will be used for aging and ailing stock (we destroy birds only as a last resort).
Meanwhile, it provides storage for our cleaning tools, etc.
Now all is almost set to start the 2012 breeding season.
Very little need for further work - allowing us to spend more time in assessing our birds -- until winter storms kicked in and blew out one of our windows, which were patched up and made safe until the weather improved. The excessive weather caused our garden to be flooded partially, making the journey to the birdroom while carrying water buckets rather difficult. A job for the professionals when the weather next year allows it!
The much awaited arrival of warm weather (improving my mobility) has allowed us to partially restore the damaged window to the extent of being able to open it again. We have now arranged for drainage to be installed, and a water supply and drainage to and from the birdroom to be included in that work. Hopefully, this will be completed soon, and we have altered our birdroom to include a small scullery area.
Additionally, we have added a further small flight to make the comfort of our stock even more assured.
This means a reduction in floor area of the 'open' space within the birdroom, but we do not wish to diminish the freedom that birds in our larger flight rooms enjoy.
The water supply and
drainage having been laid on, as planned, have proved
a true boon
make day to day maintenance so much easier
The picture, right, shows the work on the small and rudimentary - but useful scullery still under construction at the time. We decided against installing a fixed water heater of any kind, finding the modern, and inexpensive, electric kettles more than adequate for all our needs in the birdroom.
At present, the only
'furnishings are the sink unit & base plus two shelves. This minimalistic design
allows us room to clean largish, as well as small items of equipment in this
For the first time in many years, our aviary security was breached ; this occurred in February of this year, and the, raisers' were a colony of mice who moved in shortly after the death of our old cat, Foxy.
This took us completely by surprise, as I had not realised that our old birdroom had become so vulnerable; but insecure it was, and the little beasties soon had made a number of entrances, and double the number of exits! Consequently, the breeding pairs generally (though not all) became rather nervous and this disrupted our season especially as I was an almost ever-present during the day while I made essential repairs inside the aviary
By the summer, was able to move outside to repair the external cladding, Further work is planned for 2015.
The other major change if that one of our flights was built with large, folding glazed doors. They served us well for a considerable time, but over the last two years, our hotter summers proved uncomfortable for the birds in that flight. as they were in full direct sunlight for most of the days.
Our reconstruction seems to have worked well
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