What is Aviary?

Aviary is the structure for the maintenance of keeping captive birds. It is a large enclosure for the confinement of the birds. It is large enough so that an aviculturist can enter inside the aviary. The aviaries are different from the birdcages as they provide sufficient space for the birds to fly inside the aviary. Hence, they are sometimes also known as flight cages. There are also sometimes plants and shrubbery that simulate the natural environment inside the aviary. 


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History of the Aviaries

The aviary is the large house of the birds that are also used for displaying the birds. The ancient usage of aviaries dates back to earlier than the 1500s as found in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, noted by Hernan Cortes. Another example of the oldest cage is the raven cage which is present in the London Zoo since 1829. 

During the Victorian period, there was a revival of the usage of aviaries. Of them, the first large aviary was established in 1880 in the establishment of Rotterdam Zoo. Many of the Rothschild houses, which expanded across the European continent during the 19th century had aviaries as the main aspect of their households. This culture was the recalling of the aristocratic tradition prevalent among the elite classes during the 1600s when it was a social aspect to display power, prestige, status and wealth through the showcasing of exotic birds, and animals. An example of such an aviary is the aviary built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1889 at the Waddesdon Manor, UK. It was built following the style of Versailles’ trelliswork pavilions. The aviary prices of such aviaries according to today’s economy are very high and can cost a fortune. 

At the Smithsonian institution in 1902, a flying cage was constructed in the National Zoological Park. Another one of such aviaries, A Great Flying Cage was built in 1964. Another one of the flying cages was built in the 1904 World’s fair which is now situated in the Saint Louis Zoo. An interesting fact is that it is one of the only two permanent such structures built in the 1904 World’s fair and the one at Saint Louis Zoo is the only one remaining. At its time, it was the largest bird cage ever built. It is counted amongst the largest flying cages ever built in the world. 

In 1937, another one of the largest aviaries was constructed in San Diego’s Zoo by Louis John Gill. The largest steel structure at its time was built with a size of 55 m length, 18 m wide, and a height of 30 m. It was funded by the Works Progress Administration without any beams, cross or guy-wires, which impeded the flight of the bird's cages. The aviary prices of such a large construction were $50,000 when built. Most of such cases can be read about in any of the available aviary books. Another such cage system, the Antwerp cage system was built in 1948 for the Antwerp Zoo. The birds in this aviary were separated from the public with a light system used indoors. 

A two-storey birdhouse was built in 1972 at the Bronx Zoo’s World of Birds. It is a huge aviary landscaped with indoor free-flight exhibits. It is a one-flow pattern in which the visitors usually go through twenty-five different types of bird habitats which range from the desert to the tropical forest. Each of the habitat settings is built with such impressive fidelity that usually flies around the cage within the mobile world. It is filled completely with living plants. Out of the five of the aviaries are open completely and two of them are so large structures that they allow the public to walk through them with birds flying above them as well. 

One of the largest aviaries is the Birds of Eden bird sanctuary which is located in the Western Cape of South Africa. It is the largest free-flight aviaries in the world. This aviary opened in 2005 and covers an area of 21,761 m2 with a total volume of 3,75,372 m2. A beautiful fact of this aviary is that it is home to 3000 individual birds which comprise around 200 bird species. 

Such information is available in coffee-table aviary books as well. Many of these aviaries are maintained by private aviculturists. The larger constructions of aviaries are built-in zoos, with the main purpose of exhibiting the bird species and the variety of the birds. Some of the aviaries are also built-in research institutes to understand their behavioural and other aspects. 


Characteristics of Different Types of Aviaries

Most of the aviaries that are large are often found in zoological gardens like the London Zoo, National Zoo in Washington DC. There are also spacious aviaries that allow human beings to walk through the bird parks like the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore. Most of the famous aviaries found in an aviary book are USA’s National Aviary, the oldest public aviary in Hamilton in Ontario in Canada, Tracy aviary in Salt Lake City in Utah, aquatic aviaries such as Oregon Coast Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, etc. 

Home aviaries are kept by individuals who are bird enthusiasts. There are two main types of home aviaries - grounded and suspended aviaries. The grounded aviaries are the ones that have concrete bases while the suspended aviaries are the ones that are kept above the ground with the support of ‘legs’ which are fixed on the ground. They are mostly made up of woodwork or PVC frames. This is different from the public aviaries which are made up of metal frames. Ornithology institutes also have their own aviaries. 

These aviaries are not to be confused with Alinea Aviary. The Alinea aviary is a restaurant and bar with many different cocktail drinks listed in the Alinea aviary drink book. There are also such restaurant businesses throughout the world built around the name aviary. Aviary creperie is a small restaurant in France where crepes (a type of pancake) are served. There are many such small aviary bakery present all over France and the world. This kind of aviary bakery is a business that runs on the concept of aviaries and is built to entertain and bring in more customers.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Does Aviary Mean?

Ans: Technically speaking, an aviary is a construction or place where birds are kept in a confined area. The difference between an aviary and a cage is that the aviaries are very large cages that allow the free movement of the birds inside the cage to a greater extent. There are aviaries of different sizes, ones with sufficient enough space for a flight of birds kept in-home, to the ones with large enough spaces where the birds fly over the heads of the visitors in an environment imitating their natural habitat, like in the zoos. 

2. Is Aviary a Word?

Ans: Aviary is a word used for keeping birds in large enough spaces that allow them some flight mobility. It is derived from the Latin language meaning a place for birds. The word Avi is the Latin word that means birds and the suffix -ary means a place. Hence, the aviary is a place for birds.