Lory/Lorikeet Aviaries

Cages and Aviaries

There seems to be lots of ideas about cages and aviaries. Most people we talked to have different ideas and our local bird pet store has lots of nice expensive cages and ready made aviaries.
We do not use cages as permanent bird homes, they are just too small for even the smallest lorikeet, we do use several cages for transporting birds and a most convenient cat carrier cage where the whole top hinges upwards, usually for visits to the vet.
Apart from that all birds live in spacious aviaries and have enough room to fly and get exercise. The first aviaries we built were like a house that gets lots of add-on rooms. It is a bit awkward as some aviaries can only be accessed from another aviary. The doors between them are odd sizes and it is necessary to stoop to enter an aviary. Not too human-comfortable or human-convenient although the birds do not seem to mind.

The last block of six aviaries we constructed were planned in advance and have several main features that make life much easier for humans and birds.
First each aviary had to be tall enough for people to stand,
second it needed to be long long enough to allow the birds to fly,
third have a normal human-height door for access without having to stoop to enter,
fourth to enter an aviary without having to enter another aviary first.

The actual design we settled on was to minimise construction work and especially minimise wire cutting. The size of an aviary would be:
Length 3 metres, height 2 metres, and width 1 metre.
The sizes we actually settled were: length 3.2 metres, height 1.98 metres and width 0.96 metres. The width of a roll of 18mm square grid wire at 910mm decided the width of an aviary. The 3.2metre sides were contructed using 75mm by 50mm No1 dressed pine (kiln dried), two lengths 3.2metres with four 1.88metre uprights set between the long lengths, one at each end and two at 1metre steps from one end. Wire was then attached over each of the two one metre gaps. A 1200mm wide 10mm thick three ply sheet of plywood was then cut the 1.98metre height of the last section and nailed in place.
Four such aviary 'walls' were pre-made to make three side by side aviaries. These were all propped up on a base then 850mm long 75mm by 50mm pine ties were made to go between the four walls. Wire was then used for the aviary front and roof. Another two sheets of plywood were used to roof over the rear of each aviary thereby creating a dry shelter area for the birds. Doors were made for the back of each aviary and eventually a covered over walkway was made along the back of the aviaries.

Another set of three aviaries were built to a slightly different plan.
This time the ground was almost level so after some shuffling of topsoil a layer of scoria (volcanic pumice type stones) was set over the topsoil and the block of three aviaries set on the scoria.
Because of the urgency to construct these aviaries they were an even more simplified design, this time 3.2 metres long, 1.2 metres wide and 2 metres high. Doors were made at the front end of each aviary and a wire covered walkway will soon be constructed in front of the block. In meantime the doors need some care to open as the birds could easily escape from the aviary.

click on an image to see it full size

Aviary image 9 Avairy image 6 Aviary image 10 Aviary image 11


Perches are where birds appear to spend most of their time. Therefore providing suitable perches is quite important. This is quite easy and a wide variety of suitable perch material is easily available.
In each aviary we like to have four or five perches roughly going from one side to the other, although perches range from horizontal to near vertical and are made from different materials.

Lories enjoy peeling bark from perches and often take great delight in stripping the bark in minute detail. We use fallen branches from willows and eucalypts, these we find readily available in a nearby cemetry. Often the bark on these is dried and cracked and it can take a lory from a week to a month to get this totally stripped. Then we look at changing the perch for a fresh one and the stripping activity starts all over.

We also use bamboo from a large ornamental bamboo growing in the garden. A single bamboo pole can simply push through the wire of three adjacent aviaries, we do this for near-the-ground perches which the birds use quite often. The greener bamboo shoots also get meticulous attention and it is not too long before the bamboo is stripped and destroyed. If the leaves are left on the bamboo, where they grow at the segment joints, then the lories all take great pleasure in pulling the leaves and slowly munching them into green mush. Overall the bamboo is not a perfect perch as it is a hard shiny surface offering little grip. Some lories make a game out of this and holding on to a bamboo will slip over and hang upside down for extended periods. I have actually seen one young Musk Lorikeet spinning around on a bamboo, hanging on with both feet and flying to gain momentum.

Fruit tree branches, pear, apple, peach, nectarine, orange all make a special treat for a lory. Some will get excited with a fruit tree branch and gouge through the bark to the sap, young green branches are most popular. Once the branches dry up the lorys appear to lose interest.

Perches should be firmly attached to the aviary. Where possible the end of a perch is drilled to take a wide thread screw. The perch is then held up to the cage wire and from the outside the screw is used with a wide plastic or steel washer to hold the perch in place. When the perch is replaced the screw and washer can be reused with the new perch.


Nestboxes appear to serve two main purposes. Somewhere for the lories to sleep when the weather is cold and a place to lay eggs and raise young. A lot of experimentation can go into trying to find what a particular pair of lories find is an acceptable nestbox.
Several types of nestboxes we have used are described below:

wood nestbox
The traditional wooden lory nestbox is a simple retangular box with a hinged lid or flap, an entrance hole near the top of the box and a perch just below the entrance hole.

Nestbox image 3

L shape wood nestbox
This style of nestbox has the opening placed in such a way that birds entering do not drop directly onto and eggs in the sleeping chamber. The entrance is at the top part of the L, the nest chamber at the right side bottom of the L.

Nestbox image 1

hollowed out tree limb or trunk nestbox
These type of Lory nestboxes look really good in an aviary, giving that natural look to the nest site. Most of these types tend to be a length of tree trunk about 600mm to 900mm in length and at least 300mm in diameter. The top and bottom of the trunk are covered with a section of plywood usually sawn to match the end shape of the trunk. The top cover is removeable for access. The entrance hole is cut near the top of the trunk although any natural split opening in the wood if often used and maybe widened enough to suit the Lory.
In general these types of nestboxes can be quite expensive as there is a lot of effort involved in hollowing out the trunk. Otherwise they are not really too different to a similar sized restangular wood nestbox.

plastic bucket nestbox
We came across this idea for a nestbox and decided to try it and see if our lories wold be interested.
It seems a good idea for a low cost nestbox, quick to make and easy to install. The basis is a cheap one gallon plastic bucket - ours cost $2.

Nestbox image 2


Lories and Lorikeets are very inquisitive and will inspect everything in their aviary. After a short time they will be very familiar with every square (cubic?) inch of space and will spend more time looking at the area outside the aviary.

Very soon the lory wll get bored and this is where toys and other objects become important in making the aviary interesting for the inquisitive bird. We have found that the most simple toys tend to be the best. Although there are many excellent items available in per stores they do tend to be expensive when you need to have enough items for several aviaries.
Making some toys is quite straightforward and here are some that we have made and found very successful.

A swing made from three pieces of wood dowel, either round or square section, from 12mm square section dowel or 8mm to 20mm diameter round dowel. In several cases strips were cut from spare 100mm wide by 12mm pine flooring boards.
Swings have been to sizes suitable for one of two birds from the smaller Scaly and Musk lorikeets to the larger Rainbows and Yellow-bibs. An example for a larger bird is made with one 150mm (6inch) length and two 350mm (14 inch) lengths of 12mm square pine strips. The two longer strips are screwed to the ends of the shorter strip to form a U shape. At the other ends of the longer strips (the top of the U), screw hooks are attached.
The swing is then suspended from the wire of the aviary roof using the two screw hooks - a very inexpensive swing.

A short length, 450mm (18 inches), of knotted rope, suspended from the aviary roof can also be very popular with lories. Our lories all have great fun swinging, hanging upside down, twirling around and competing with each other to climb up the rope. This is always accompanied with lots of squawking and excited activity. We use natural rope made from sisal, at least 12mm in diameter and have about six knots over a 450mm length - the actual length of rope used is about a metre, those knots soon shorten it.
The end that attaches to the aviary roof is knotted to a swivel type metal clip (the type used on a dog leash), the other end is left just as it was cut
When a new rope is placed in an aviary we have found that the lories will spend hours unpicking the rope so that the end becomes frayed out to individual strands. The end at the swivel joint also tends to get unpicked although none of the knots have yet been undone. Quite often I will sneakily rewind the frayed ends and make multiple small knots of a few strands. When the birds discover this they set about spending hours to meticulously unpick all the smaller knots. Its amusing to see the lories going to their rope each time I leave an aviary, they inspect it in detail to see if the fraying has been rewound.
I think it is important not to use string, cord or rope under 10mm in diameter as it is much more likely a bird could get entabgled and seriously hurt (or worse!).

Other simple toys we have found successful are small hollow balls made from hard plastic with a bell inside. Lories will spend hours rolling around the aviary floor with these and will also sneak up on them and attack to kill.
A variation on the knotted rope is to saw up some irregular sized pieces of wood, drill a hole through each and thread it on a rope which is then suspended from the aviary. If the wood parts are separeted by knots in the rope then the lories will be able to get right between them. A few loose wood washers or even metal washers, old keys/keyrings, and items that can be noisy, bits of chain, small bells, hollow lengths of wood, wood rings, lengths of metal tube, can all be used to make the toy more interesting and more fun for the lory.

Food and Water dishes and containers

Water dishes should be placed in such a way as to minimise the possibility of the water being soiled by faecal material. This may mean placing above a perch so the birds can access the container but not below other perching positions. The stainless steel type bowls are ideal for this Water dishes:
Crockery dog and cat water dishes - may be used as a bath, kept on the aviary floor or on a shelf
Stainless steel round bowls in a wire ring that clips on aviary wire - these range in diameter from 80mm to 300mm.
Plastic water bottle water drip feeder, similar to type used by dogs and cats and use an old 1.5liter plastic coke bottle.

Food containers, the size and type will depnd on the food being served in them. We use various sizes of food containers, the smallest are clip-on-the-wire plastic types about 40mm by 25mm retangular and 400mm deep. these are used for dry mix powder. For liquid fruit mixes round stainless steel bowls in the metal ring that clips on the aviary wire, the 80mm size is ideal. For fresh fruit the larger stainless steel bowls about 100mm to 150mm are used or for larger birds we use crockery dog food water bowls usually placed on a shelf in the aviary.
We found that serving food in any container on the floor was not too good an idea as the food gets soiled quite easily and somtimes a bird feeding would get pooped on from above.

The rest

Every so often when cleaning up the trees and bushes in the garden, some of the cut branches will be placed in an avaiary. Complete with leaves and any flowers or fruit growing on the branch these are propped up either by tying with small rope or nailing with 25mm or 35mm staples. These branches will not wither for a week or so if the cut end is placed in a container with water.
Lories will soon get into the branches and proceed to investigate everything, flowers and fruit get special attention although leaves will also be enjoyed.
We have found birds fast asleep,hanging upside down inside the foilage of cut branches. Games take on a whole new meaning when dense foilage is available, Lories will eagerly chase each other around the foilage and often hide from others then suddenly jump out when another Lory gets too close. The fun can get quite noisy.

All Lories enjoy a nice bath therefore having a suitable water container for bathing is essential. There is nothing stranger than watching a lory trying to have a bath in its drinking water container - which is usually too small for the lory to fit into.
There are quite a few options with bathing water containers. We have used crockery dishes, dog and cat crockery water bowls, old stainless steel sinks, deep plastic bowls etc. These have been placed on the aviary floor, placed on a shelf about a metre off the floor and suspended from the roof by wires.

Page owner: <dgd@kcbbs.gen.nz>
Last modified: 12 July 2000.