Mixed Species Aviaries

Mixed Species Aviary that houses two species of mousebirds, white-eyes, Pekin Robins, and various exotic finches.

Mixed species aviaries or community aviaries are enclosures in which more than one species of bird lives.  There are many benefits to this type of arrangement but also some drawbacks.  Careful planning needs to be done to ensure a successful and happy mixture of birds.  Peaceful coexistence is the ultimate goal.  If breeding is the highest priority, it is generally better to house in a single pair or species aviary instead.

Benefits include:

Red Face Mousebird and Livingston Turaco cuddle for a nap
  • birds can interact with other species much as they would naturally do in the wild.
  • bird species can be mixed so that all areas of the flight is used; some on the ground, some in open spaces, some flitting in bushes, etc.
  • a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, activities, and songs can please the human eye, ear, and heart.
  • usually able to house more individual birds in a flight.
  • often more than one species can be bred in the same enclosure with careful planning.

Drawbacks include:

  • careful research needs to be done on each species involved before putting them together so as to have a good idea as how the species will interact.  For example, hornbills may eat smaller birds.  And remember, individual birds and each situation is different.  What may work for one bird fancier may not work for you, so be flexible in your plans and be ready to revise.
  • more attention needs to be given to the dynamics of the inhabitants.
  • breeding may be hampered and often only the largest species in the enclosure are successful.  For example, a turaco’s normal movements often destroy smaller birds’ nests by accident.
  • usually enclosures need to be  larger.  The larger the enclosure, the more success a mixed species aviary has.

Things to Think About:

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Amethyst Starlings, Yellow Hood Blackbirds, Red Cap Cardinal, and Blue Grey Tanager share a flight
  • will the different species eat or harass each other?
  • where do the different species spend most of their time and where do they sleep?  Will there be conflicts?
  • how do the different species’ behaviors change when in breeding condition?  Will there be conflicts?
  • will there be predation of chicks in this species mix?
  • concerning ground birds – is there room for them to walk around normally or will they be getting feces dropped on them constantly?  They have less area to use than flying birds, so is there enough territory if you plan to mix more than one species that uses the ground?  Where will the ground birds sleep?  (Remember, many species use the ground during the day but roost in the trees at night.)

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Copyright 07/09  Kateri Davis