Frequently Asked Questions

Our volunteers are often asked questions while they are working inside the Aviary. We also receive new questions through this web site, and also through our FaceBook page. Here is a selection of the questions that turn up most often:

What bird is that?

None of our our volunteers knows every species in our Aviary, but we are steadily using this web site to create a complete list. Please check our bird identification pages to see which species we have already catalogued.

How do they get on in the winter?

Each section of the Aviary has a back room which is heated in the winter. There are plenty of perches and nest boxes inside, and many more outside but still under shelter. The birds go wherever they feel most comfortable. We have to be careful in freezing weather because all birds need to drink fresh water, and the small ones cannot survive long when their water is frozen. There is more information here.

Do different birds fight with one-another?

In general, we have big birds in the large enclosure, and small birds in the small one. However, that isn't always the best approach. We also keep larger, more timid species in the small enclosure. You might be surprised to see Budgies and Love Birds in the large enclosure, but they can be quite aggressive and are not bullied by the bigger birds.

Why would the birds die if they were let out?

We think they would... individual birds of any species in our Aviary will be unlikely to find suitable food year-round, avoid predators and aggressive native birds, and keep warm in the wet and cold weather. Although there are parrots living successfully around London, this is only because a lot of them must have lived in the same aviary, and were released together so they were able to establish viable colonies. Many people say this was very regrettable, because these non-native birds are now pushing the natural population out of their own habitat.

Who pays for the Aviary?

See our donors and sponsors on this web site.

Where do the birds come from?

Many of our bird species breed successfully. We don't deliberately breed them because we want the population to stay fairly constant, but we want them to live as naturally as possible. We maintain a wide variety of nest boxes to satisfy their nesting instincts.

Also, we are often given birds by owners who are no longer able to look after them. (VERY occasionally, we use money from donations to purchase a partner of the same species for a bird that is lonely, perhaps because its mate has died.)

How many have you got?

We try hard to keep a log of new external arrivals, births and deaths, but it is too hard to be accurate. We are trying to complete a list of all our species, and are updating this web site as we progress. It would be too stressful to try to isolate and count all our individual birds, so we won't do that. We think we have about 400 birds, but you could try counting them yourself and let us know what you think!

How long do they live?

That varies a lot. The small finches only live about two years, but some of the parrots can live for decades. If you look at the individual species on this web site, you will find information on their life spans. However, a lot of our birds have been re-homed at the aviary, so we usually do not know how old they are when they arrive.

Do they have babies?

We maintain a variety of nest boxes and many of our bird species breed successfully. You will see some of the boxes on the far walls of the enclosures, but there are more in the lobbies and back rooms. Some of them look quite tatty because parrots usually like to "modify" their chosen box to suit their individual taste! When a box is no longer popular because it has been shredded too much, we replace it with a new one. We clean out the remaining boxes several times during the breeding season, which is our Spring and early Summer (even for the species that live wild in the Southern Hemisphere).

How can I help?

Please see how on this web site.

Why is there no greenery in the large enclosure?

Parrots in the wild are VERY destructive, and so are those in our Aviary. We give them plenty of branches and cuttlefish to chew, but they still can't resist gnawing at the nest boxes and walls! (Their beaks grow constantly and so chewing is a natural part of the life of a parrot). We also give them greens to eat, which they enjoy, but we haven't yet found any green plants that are safe to eat and yet are able to survive more than a few days.

Can any of them talk?

The only bird you are likely to hear talking is "Posh", our Yellow Crowned Amazon Parrot. She has a wide range of phrases, such as "Hello" and "Nice cup of tea", but we can't recognise them all. She likes to laugh, too! She is quite moody, and stubbornly refuses to talk for hours... and then suddenly starts chattering for ten minutes or more. She definitely prefers talking to ladies. Our female Maroon Bellied Conure sometimes tells us her name is "Joey", but she spends most of her time in the back room and is quite hard to spot when she is out in the large cage.

Do they all eat the same food?

Definitely not. We keep four different kinds of seed mixtures to suit all our species. We put out cuttlefish bones, protein supplements, fresh fruit and vegetables, insect grubs and millet sprigs. Each bird chooses its own food from what we supply each day. There is more information here.