We’re renting a warehouse for the winter months up here in north Idaho for our birds – we usually keep them outside year round but that’s not happening here in Idaho! It’s not Florida weather anymore, that’s for sure! We had looked into certain types of partially underground aviaries where the underground part of it stays one temperature all the time, while the above ground part lets in all the sunlight and air and such – and then the birds can choose which one they want to be in, and just fly down to escape the too cold temperatures. But, we only know of ONE person doing this successfully and we can’t find him or anything online about how he did it. So, warehouse it is for now. Until we figure that one out.
In the warehouse, there are three bedrooms downstairs along with a bathroom and makeshift kitchen area. I’ve set up the kitchen with a sink and refrigerator for all the fresh and frozen foods for the birds – along with an area to be able to clean dishes. I keep a metal bin full of extra dishes so that feeding goes smoothly each day.
The first bedroom downstairs is Dave’s office, the second is our daughter’s playroom and the third is the bird room. The bird room has the thermostat, the air filter, the scale and weight/training charts, and of course, the birds and all their supplies (food, extra food, newspaper for changing cages, toys, perches, treats, trash can, and a door to outside). Their room is “unfinished” but we chose to put them in it because of the easy access to outside air on nice days, the thermostat and it being the largest of the rooms.
The smallest room went to our daughter, Sydney, to act as a play room for her so that she can have fun, take naps, be entertained while her dad is working and I’m taking care of birds. It was kind of like designing a nursery all over again for me – but this one was just for play with the occasional nap!
Dave surprised me one day and painted the entire room pink! At first, it was crazy on the eyes pink but after a few days it mellowed out quite a bit. All the painting was done long before the birds were ever brought into the warehouse in general.
Here’s how I kept the bird theme going for her playroom…
It felt like with this pink paint, we could really do no wrong, as if everything worked because it was so awesomely pink.
The room isn’t totally done yet – I plan on mounting two candle mirror holders on each side of the toucan art print and then getting her some super pink glittery girly candles to put on there (just for looks)… and the rack holding her clothing was found at a consignment shop locally and is intended for quilts. But I thought it would be great for her clothes. I plan on painting it white with a crackle… some day, when grandma and grandpa take her for a few hours… (hint, hint)
I would love to eventually get her more pink and gray and white colored bird pillows. I’m thinking with galahs playing on them or pink toucans. But we’ll see what Christmas brings to incorporate! On the playpen are some bird themed blankets we received as gifts, hand made as well. Larger items you saw in her old Florida nursery (toucan rocker) and such, had to go upstairs with her crib (all toucan themed) as her playroom could only fit so many things! Hope you enjoyed and maybe got some ideas for your own playrooms!
I was fortunate enough to become friends with one amazing woman and animal lover deep down to her SOUL… Susan Hilliard. She loves animals like I’ve never seen anyone love animals before. It’s admirable. I seriously adore this woman and if you’ve ever met her, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
One of my favorite memories with her was the first time I’d met her, and I spent days free-flying birds with her in Moab, Utah at her cabin. We had the most amazing time and had become so close in such a short amount of time. As we sat at the airport waiting for my plane so I could go home, a magazine was spotted on the table and it had an article about Alex the Grey parrot. We began reading and it went into a short story about how Alex would look out the window and the wild birds and trees and say, “Wanna go tree.” and he was always told no. Susan burst into tears and exclaimed, “All he wanted was to go outside and be in the tree! Birds are so meant to be outside and to fly! That’s all he wanted!”
It was one of those moments where you want to laugh because it’s so darn cute, and compelling, and compassionate and sweet… but you know you shouldn’t laugh so I just grabbed her and hugged her as she wiped her eyes and went on about it… with a smile on my face. I smiled because I loved this moment about her SO much. I wanted to laugh at how fast it came about and her adorably loving interpretation of the story (my own interpretation was the same).
She was kind enough this last month to have me and my five month old daughter (who is now 6 months, where is time going?!), Sydney as well as my husband, Dave out to see her aviary on Whidbey Island. Now, she didn’t construct this aviary – but all the birds have been left in her care and so here they are. She works day and night fixing and making the aviary better as it literally was just dumped into her lap within the last week or so. So if you’re looking at it thinking about the improvements it needs – bare with her! She’s working on it.
I still wanted to share my experience from another perspective of ‘infants and birds’ – this was yet another opportunity I was given to make birds a positive experience for my daughter yet again. Luckily, it was a success!
Susan invited us into the aviary, telling us about each bird and its story. Most of whom we knew were the freeflyers – the troupe of calico macaws Cressi, our African grey, started off freeflying with as well as the duo of blue throated macaws, Dreadful and Gleam (my forever favorites!), the crazy noisy and colorful flock of sun conures (made me miss my own girls!) called Snicket’s Army! Buckle, the gorgeous shamrock macaw whom I remember as just a baby years ago… and then there were the new faces of a scarlet macaw that wasn’t Ariel (though she was there too), and amazon parrots, all kinds of cockatoos and even parrotlets, senegals and eclectus’. Susan often takes on birds from other people to help improve their lives (such as the plucking blue throated macaw Kayla who was making great progress).
Sydney looked unfazed as we approached the aviary; most people wore ear plugs but not me and not this girl. When she was really small I would take her out to the birds (my own) in the aviaries and it would immediately calm her just watching them. This seemed to prove no different.
As we decided to go inside with her (I said we should take turns and Dave said I should just leave with her if it didn’t seem to be working… now we all know who wears the pants, haha! Not me.) I thought it best if Dave took treats for the birds and I went without. This way they’d be more likely to go to him, not me, and if they did come to me he would easily be able to bribe them off. It ended up not even being an issue. The only birds that came to me were a mitred conure whom I asked with a treat in hand eventually, and the beloved blue throat favorites of mine! So I was thrilled, and so was Sydney. She calmly just looked around.
The aviary was crazy tall which Susan filled me in on being a negative thing for her. She felt like when they needed to get a bird for whatever reason, they couldn’t always because of how tall it was so the one going up next door was not as tall and had a lot of changes learned from this one.
I guess that’s the only way to learn what kind of aviary you want – is to just do it and see what works and what doesn’t. Kind of an expensive way to learn, right? If you’re looking for an aviary option and are not the handy type (like me!) then you can actually work with Cages by Design (www.cagesbydesign.com) to come up with a custom design to suit your needs.
Overall, the sun conures proved to be her favorites to watch and she was not as content in dad’s arms as the birds were constantly flying over head and landing on and around him more closely than they were me. Plus, there’s just something about being the sole food source that makes me ever so more comforting!
Susan’s aviary is not one that is open to the public (unless maybe you wanna go help out!) but hopefully when the new aviary is completed, I will be able to see it and update all of you with the improvements and changes along with pictures of my daughter hopefully holding a few birds herself!
My husband and I knew that we’d want a bird theme of some sort no matter what gender our baby turned out to be. We thought about going with a blue bird, like our blue throated macaw “Jinx”, if we had a boy. Then our colors would be blue and yellow. And if a girl, maybe we would go with the theme of galahs – pink and grey, everything! But in the end, our love for toucans overcame and as I got impatient waiting to find out gender, I wanted to decorate in a way that would work for either sex so our original thoughts of themes was not going to work. Toucans it was, in neutral colors to match the room overall – sex to be determined at a later date.
Because toucans are only commonly found among ‘jungle, rainforest’ and other animal themes which I knew I didn’t want – I had to go out on a limb and ask independent designers for custom products of just toucans.
For example, the mobile I wanted:
However, I just wanted a bunch of toucans! So I sent this lovely lady a message along with a picture of some bird artwork I had ordered for the nursery already and told her I wanted all toucans with the color scheme of the following picture:
When she was finished, I received this:
As gifts, we received tons and tons of parrots, birds and toucans, all stuffed animals for her animal treasure chest. Here’s a glimpse at her stuffed-flock:
I can’t even believe how many different toucans there are out there that people were able to find. I know of a few on ebay or amazon, but that’s about it!
When I couldn’t find something as a toucan, I’d find it as a bird in general, like the door stop (etsy) or door hanger (gift). But then there were those totally original, off the wall finds like these:
For our name reveal we eventually did, I had baby blocks made custom with a toucan at the end that worked well into the room as well.
My mother found the following fabric in black, white and blue and I chose black. My grandma then sewed up a pillow for nursing, a blanket for the crib and bumpers for the crib as well. She also sewed the extra fabric with the toucans showing onto the bottom of my drapes for that room, too.
I finished the room off with tons of toucan books (gifts, pictured in the wagon) and a toucan piece of art above the crib from Minted.com.
Although what people fail to mention (or perhaps I didn’t research hard enough) is that you won’t even really use this room for the first few months. So, it still looks like this… minus the chair that I moved downstairs for easier access! Good thing that crib turns into a day bed because that’s when I’m thinking she will use it ;)!
All in all we had a lot of fun designing the room and finding little gems to add to it. The furniture is from Amazon (treasure chest, glider chair with ottoman, crib) while the wagon with the books in it is from Restoration Hardware. The night stand is from TJ Maxx, the diaper pail from Walmart, and the rug from Pier 1 Imports. The blankets are also from Pier 1 (the teal, red and purple).
I’m pretty excited for when she’s at the age to play with all those stuffed animals…!