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Exotic birds are personable pets but must be housed in cages lest they flap around the house or encounter dangers in the outside world. Aviary wire mesh is manufactured specially for large cages. The mesh is constructed of a durable metal material, and the hexagonal or square shapes provide a perfect perching and climbing material. Wire mesh sizes vary, so select the smaller diameter mesh to contain the smallest birds. When selecting aviary wire mesh, look for powder-coated or vinyl-coated wire and avoid mesh that contains sharp barbs as well as plain galvanized metal.
Not all types of wire mesh are alike. Some metal mesh is constructed of stainless steel or wrought iron, some of galvanized metal, and others of coated metal. The stainless steel is the best wire mesh for bird cages, as it resists bacteria growth and rust, and does not contain minerals that are toxic to birds. Wrought iron is safe, but the material does corrode and is heavy. Stainless steel and iron mesh can be expensive, however, and so many bird owners select the more affordable galvanized mesh material.
Galvanized metal contains zinc. This type of metal is used for outdoor projects, because the zinc plating resists corrosion. Zinc, however, is toxic to birds. Prolonged exposure to heavy metals, such as zinc, lead or tin, build up in the bird's body, causing symptoms like cyanosis, feather plucking, liver dysfunction and, in severe cases, death. Some owners wash the galvanized wire mesh with a vinegar solution to remove zinc flakes from the metal, while others avoid galvanized metal altogether.
Some aviary wire mesh is constructed of cheap metal dipped in vinyl or coated with a special paint, called powder-coat. This mesh is very durable and prevents the possible poisoning of the bird. The bird still may chew through the coating, or the coating may wear away from outdoor exposure. Once the coating develops tears or holes, the mesh becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and corrosion.
Aviary wire mesh is usually manufactured with smooth metal. You should always check to ensure that the mesh is tightly would and welded. Small barbs or nicks in the joints or wire can snag a bird's sensitive foot and cause bleeding. Look for wire products produced by a reputable manufacturer. Such a manufacturer usually wishes to maintain a good reputation and will therefore make quality products and answer consumer concerns more readily.
We had a really big aviary when I was a kid, which my dad built himself. It was large enough to walk into and we kept all kinds of birds in there.
It was a real learning curve though, as you can't just plunk the wire down and expect the birds to stay in. Parrots in particular are really good at prying up wire, so you need to make sure every join is going to stay and that part of the mesh is folded over at the bottom so they don't force their way out there either.
The other thing to consider, depending on where you live, is that bird seed (and birds!) is quite sought after in the animal kingdom, so you might have other animals trying to get into the aviary as well.
You might like to consider what kind of birds you're going to have in the cage when you're looking at the kind of wire mesh to choose.
If you're planning to have small birds, particularly if you are having only finches and canaries and that kind of bird, it's OK to have a smaller mesh if you want.
But, if you are going to house parrots, particularly larger parrots, or a combination of different types of birds, you really need to have a mesh that the parrots can climb without hurting themselves.
Parrots need to fly, in order to exercise their wings, but they also need to be able to climb, because that's a part of their natural activity as well. Perching birds, like canaries, just need a few different sizes of perches and that's enough for their feet, but parrots will suffer if they don't have something to climb.
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