The Bird Building

This page was last updated on: March 23, 2017
In summer-fall of 2008 we achieved our dream of constructing a wonderful purpose-built building for the birds to live in. It's located in what used to be our sheep pasture, 150 feet from our house, overlooking a peaceful stream with oak trees along it.


We built this to be as secure and as energy-efficient as possible. It's earth-sheltered on the north, east, and part of the west sides. The south wall is a six-inch thick 500 square foot passive solar collector. It's made of two layers of double-wall polycarbonate with a 6 inch space between them. The other walls are 10-inch poured concrete with oversized reinforcing bars. The attic insulation is 16 inches deep, and the heating system is in-floor radiant heat. We use an on-demand tankless water heater, and all of the lights are energy-efficient CFLs. We have a generator for those nasty storms that are becoming more frequent here in the Midwest. The roof and ceiling are heavy-weight steel panels.
Here's the area where the macaws live. There are cages for security when we're away and at night, and playgyms for everyone during the day. The ones who are flighted (that's most of them) are free to visit back and forth, and decide who to hang out with.

About half the macaws live outside of cages fulltime. You can see the play areas down the middle of this section. The rest have playgyms on top of their cages, and during the day most doors are open. The door at the far end goes outside to the flight area.
This is our area for educational displays....what parrots need, how to adopt, species identification, etc. We post our reports on placements, our finance sheets, etc here.  It's also where we sell tshirts, caps, and books.
The small birds, conures, quakers, etc, have a screened area of their own. This lets them fly loose, visit, bathe and perch, without being in danger from the bigger birds. The quakers tend to flock, while the conures like to stick to their pairs. They take turns in Sassy's Fountain
This is the workshop where we build toys, repair cages, and construct playstands. Nearly everything is recycled, repurposed, or re-used. What isn't any of those is donated.
Our kitchen is small but it handles what we need to do. We have a freezer, a fridge, a microwave and a dishwasher, plus storage.  Our diet is all natural, and features fresh organic US-grown fruits and mixed vegetables every day for every bird. Hy-Vee gives a very nice discount, and we apprciate their support. Our dry mix is custom blended for us at Des Moines Feed Co.

Oh, and the coffeepot is always working...our coffee is organic, fair-traded, and rainforest-certified. The birds don't get any, but it's what I run on.


This is the fountain in the amazon area, a memorial to Todd Muhlack. The screen door is one of the entrances to the small bird enclosure. The door at left goes outside to the flight area.
This the art wall....we hang pretty pictures here for the birds to look at if they get bored with each other. The guitar is for entertaining the macaws; who really like Jimmy Buffett; the amazons prefer opera. Cockatoos don't care; they'll dance to anything.

For those who care, yes, the guitar is a Martin.
It all packs into an area just 50x50 feet....but it works, and we are immensely grateful to all of the donors and workers who made it possible and keep it running.
CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR OUTDOOR FLIGHT AREA
The door goes outside to the little guys' flight area....it's also screened off from the big birds.
Our solar panels generate as much electricity as we can use, as long as the sun is out.
Most of the amazons are aggressive toward others, and have to be caged. They can come out to play in roation...with care taken as to who can be out with who.
Across the front of the building is our outdoor flight area. It's 1500 square feet, and is partitioned so the little guys don't get tangled up with the macaws.
We're proud of our medical/quarantine room. It has cages for six birds, with more in storage. There's an incubator/nebulizer, an oxygen unit, and a dedicated air filter. The room has independent ventilation and a door to the shower, so I can wash before returning to the main room if we have a hard quarantine in effect. We can treat minor injuries, trim beaks and claws, and give medications.  It's a small space, but we pack a lot of capability into it.