By Suzanne Cromwell
Background: My husband, Larry, and I adopted two Timneh African greys from Phoenix Landing, Napoleon and Josephine. These birds are former breeders, now 48 years old. Over the years, we have tried to give them plenty of personal space so they feel safe and comfortable, and to facilitate their ability to fly so they are empowered to make choices about their activities. While living in Virginia, the birds liked to fly to a wooden beam running between the bird room and the breakfast area. When we decided to move to Florida, it was a good time to design a room for the birds that supported their ability to fly, and to have a high space to land.
What did I want to create in our bird room? Our new room for the birds has an 11′ ceiling and no existing beams. I wanted to make sure the greys could still get exercise and the benefits from flight, as well as incorporate full spectrum lighting, a structure for the birds to fly to and play on, and something from which to hang toys. I also did not want to have any electrical wiring exposed and the light bulbs protected. The following is a description of what we created and call the “birdie walk.”
The birdie walk is a 21 foot rectangular structure made out of bird-safe untreated wood. It is 8 inches wide and hung from the ceiling. We made sure the structure hung low enough so that the birds could not eat the ceiling.
The side pieces of bird-safe wood are 6 inches on both sides, with ½ round trim. The trim molding is screwed in with stainless steel screws so once it is destroyed it can easily be replaced without destroying the structure. If the birds chew the ½ round trim, this can easily be replaced!
The birdie walk is secured to the ceiling rafters by metal rods and HVAC straps. Electrical wiring for the lights are attached to ceiling junction boxes located above the ceiling. The metal rod supports, HVAC straps and electrical wiring are enclosed in PVC tubing to keep the birds from chewing through these important structural elements. Full spectrum lighting is installed in the unit, and the lights are included in boxes with a removable plastic grate.
We use hemp rope around the supports to hang natural wood perches or baskets full of toys and chew pieces. You could screw into the bottom of the structure to hang more toys or activities depending on the capabilities of your birds. The birdie walk provides many creative opportunities for hanging bird play and foraging activities!
The birdie walk is visually attractive and our greys spend many hours playing on it or with the toys, flying up and down, or just overseeing all the activity in the room.
Our birdie walk is 21 foot square but the same idea can be made in any configuration to work in your bird room. Our birds like to go around the whole surface of the birdie walk or fly from one side to the other. Our Timnehs love the bird walk and use it daily. Good luck with yours!