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How To Build An Aviary or Bird Cage

I’ve converted several pieces of furniture into large furniture style flight cages and indoor bird aviaries. The large size allows ample room for our budgie parakeets to fly and play. The glass doors offer unobstructed viewing, easy access, and keep feathers, dander, seeds and hulls contained within.

Wood and glass display cabinet converted into 6′ long x 3′ high x 2′ deep budgie parakeet indoor aviary or flight cage.

Above photo: I bought a wood and glass display cabinet and retrofitted it into a large flight cage. It measures 6 feet long x 3 feet high x 2 feet deep and can comfortably house a dozen budgies. I removed the top glass and replaced it with a ventilation panel and removed the back glass and replaced it with a white board. I scrubbed the wood finish with hot soapy water, then vinegar, then treated it with organic sesame oil. It currently sits on a 6′ long folding table, although a dresser or cabinet placed under it would offer valuable storage space under the enclosure.

I hung natural tree branch perches (a product called “Wacky Wood”), rope “boings”, swings and toys from the sturdy top ventilation panel using large plastic chain and zip ties. A full-spectrum light sits on top of the ventilation panel and is turned on and off automatically by a timer.

4′ x 3′ glass and chrome display case converted into budgie parakeet flight cage.

I’ve also made flight cages and aviaries out of a china hutch (scroll down for photos) and most recently, a 4′ long x 3′ high flight cage from a glass and chrome display case. Inside, I placed a removable homemade bird play gym, a rope boing and toys. I introduce and rotate new toys and perches periodically to keep the budgies entertained.

We removed the interior shelves from the top display unit, installed ventilation panels into both sides and on top, and filled it with perches, ladders, swings and sisal climbing ropes.

Important Safety Info: All aviary materials must be free of lead, zinc, paint and toxic wood finishes. Look for solid wood; avoid pressed MDF wood. Place or hang all perches and toys away from the wood walls to keep the birds from chewing on them. Galvanized metal and wire mesh contain toxic substances so for ventilation, I use plastic grid light covers (from Home Depot). Clean all surfaces with vinegar water or another non-toxic cleanser. Air out all new materials for several weeks so they can out-gas before using, and treat the wood with organic, food-grade sesame oil.

Cleaning: I clean our bird enclosures every other day. I replace the paper on the bottom and use a vacuum hose to remove stray food remains and feathers. When the birds are out on their portable play gym, I wipe the interior walls and glass down with vinegar water (household cleansers contain chemicals that can be deadly for small creatures).

More Budgie Parakeet Pages:

Nutrition and Food Recommendations: Birds fed seed-only diets have a much shorter life span. We provide lists of healthy foods and show you how to grow your own sprouts.

Colors, Varieties, Mutations, Genetics: Budgie Parakeets come in a rainbow of colors. This page has beautiful photos with variety and mutation descriptions.

How To Care For Your Budgie Parakeet: What is the best cage and how should I set it up? How do I keep my budgie healthy and safe? What are the best toys and playtime activities? How do I trim their wing feathers?

FAQ (frequently asked questions): What is a budgie parakeet’s personality like? What are the differences between American parakeets and English budgies? How do you tell a male from a female? Should you keep one, two or more? How long do they live? Where did the species originate?

Training, Tricks, Talking: A step-by-step guide for finger-training, trust-building, and bonding. Watch informative and entertaining video demonstrations. Find out how many words they can learn to say.

Play gyms, Stands and Perches: How to make your own (or order a custom one from us).

Homemade Aviaries and Flight Cages: How to converted used furniture into large flight cages and beautiful indoor aviaries.

Parakeet Food and Supplies Market: We offer organic, homemade bird food plus other essential bird supplies.

Budgie Parakeet Breeder in Colorado: Our family raises, hand-feeds, trains and adores budgie parakeets! Learn more about our selective breeding program and view our gorgeous, tame birds.

Inside Our Aviary: See where our birds live — flight enclosures, breeding room, play gyms.

Our Flock of Budgie Parakeets: Take a peek at our gorgeous feathered friends. Lots of photos with color mutations listed!

Adorable Pictures of Our Hand-fed Babies: Come ooh and aahh over all the cuteness and watch them grow up!

Pre-Adoption Questionnaire: If you are interested in adopting one (or more) of our parakeets, please respond to these questions.

Budgie Baby Waiting List: I know how hard it is to wait when you’re excited but I promise you, the wait is worth it!

28 comments… add one

  • Paula

    Wow I and so impressed with what you have done. Such a great idea and one I hope I can convince my husband to try. How difficult would it be for people with little carpentry experience??

  • Thanks, Paula. We love these so much more than traditional cages — they look great in our home. Depending on the piece you start with, you don’t need much more than maybe a saw to cut the plastic ventilation panels down to size. The panels just sit on top so you don’t even need a screwdriver! Pretty easy. The hard part is finding a suitable piece of furniture to start with.

    • John sayers

      I have found a suitable piece of furniture it is 4,6 high and 5′ long and 12″ back to front, 3 glass doors at the front, want to house budgies and zebra Finches, so a partition will be needed, would I be better with a horizontal or vertical central one, I’m also thinking of using o
      Low voltage led warm white tape lights, which would be behind 1/2″ square mesh, do you think this would work

  • Denise Wright Reinhardt

    Wow..these are amazing…exactly what I’m looking for my canaries..thank you so much for posting this!

  • sheila bell

    i there, i love your ideas. the reason i want to switch to a glass flight cage is i just can’t stand the mess of seeds my lady gouldian finches make every day. the thing i am worried about is i want the glass to look really pretty also, how can i keep it clean? Since my birds are up against a window now, i can see what a mess they make. i can’t use a separate cage while cleaning, like you did, i wish the glass would slide out so i could clean it…..help!

  • Heidi

    We were completely inspired with your idea. We bought a cabinet with doors and converted it into a small aviary for our two cockatiels. We just love it and it looks so beautiful (much less messy too).
    Thank you!

  • Lizz

    I love this idea and had to try it. I just bought a wood armoire hoping to install a plexiglass door front. How did you install the ventilation panels in your china hutch? Also what kind of lights did you use?

    • Lizz, I used a jigsaw with a fine blade to cut the holes. On top, I simply place the ventilation panels without fasteners — the weight of the panel and/or light fixture keeps it in place. I use full-spectrum bulbs.

  • Lizz

    Hi thanks for the tips, did you use the jigsaw remove the top of your china hutch as well?

  • Lydia

    What is the material, and where do you get it, for the ventilation panels/tops?
    Love what you have done and I am still thinking about logistics with an old entertainment cabinet with 2 front glass doors–not sure if I ventilate the top or make panels in the sides. I removed the wood back and thought about plexiglass there but do like the white backing you have used.

    • We used plastic lighting panel grids available at Home Depot. Definitely ventilate the top and if the cabinet is small, cut out vents on each side as well.

  • jeramey

    Do you make cages for other people.will pay top dollar.

  • Leanne

    I love what you have done here – we have been thinking about doing exactly the same thing, but have been unsure about many factors. For example, do you have trouble with birds chewing on the wood? We have a conure and I worry that any exposed wood surface might prove too tempting. Also, what is the purpose of the sesame oil. I would also be curious about how easy it is to clean the corners of the cages, especially if bird droppings find their way in there. Finally, did you install the glass fronts yourselves and if so, did you use tempered glass and do you find that a particular sort of door (sliding or hinged?) works best.

    I’m so glad to have found someone with experience in this sort of project.
    Thanks so much,

  • Bonnie

    I am hoping to convert our china cabinet into a parakeet cage similar to your china hutch pictured above. The enclosure will measure 32″ wide by 31″ tall by 14″ deep. Do you think it is large enough for 2 parakeets. Also, should I replace the single glass door front with chicken wire? Won’t the birds fly into the glass door? I’m also nervous about the birds flying out whenever I change the water and food. Should I try to carve a smaller door into the side of the hutch? Thanks so much. Stumbled upon your website and learned more here than from the pet stores! Bonnie

    • Leslie

      One thing I’ve learned is NEVER use galvanized anything. The tile it takes to free it of the deadly zinc it’s coated with is ridiculous and you can never be sure to get it all. That being said…IF you choose to use chicken wire which is galvanized, I would leave the glass in and place the wire on the outside of the glass. However, being that budgies love to climb, I would guess that the wire might make them run into the glass more often as when they see the wire it would be something they’d want to climb on. That being said, I work with my birds in the bathroom because it’s a small room and I don’t have to chase them far (they do get snobbish at times) and they learned very quickly that the mirror was not a doorway. They’ll figure it out quickly, I’m sure.

  • joanne birch

    hi there,
    I am hoping to build a flight for my budgies. could i use perspecs instead of glass as long as it has vents? and small battery operated push light at the bottom of the flight slightly under the wood chip?

  • Pam

    I am almost ready to sit my tv on a stand so I can use my entertainment set for my budgie “Pearl”.. 🙂

  • Janis Wattenburger

    Hi – I was wondering if you sell just the cages w/o all the extras? It says $55 but I couldn’t find an order form. I would like to purchase a white one & some of your seed mixes. Thanks, Janis

  • Kathi

    Love the china cabinet idea. Where do you get the vents for the to?

  • Rick & Marci Bastin

    As we build our new homewe have decided to turn a bedroom into a flight aviery for our finches (60 in total) the room is 11′ by 11′. We plan on adding some live plants natural tree branch’s and some type of monkey grass, there will be a shallow flowing stream with a few shallow pools all coming from a 2′ high waterfall. Just so you know there will be a safe room for entry to avoid any excapes.
    This is all still in a plan form, we would appreciate any ideas and safe guards that you may have.

  • Shelley

    This is very cool. I am building one out of an old armoire. What kidn of lights do you use in the tops of the cages? And where do you get them from?

  • janice

    I too am in the process of converting an old wooden china cabinet into a cage for my cockatiels. I hope this project turns out as well as your cages. Thanks for the tips. Vinigar and water, how much vinigar to how much water? Thanks again…

  • Margaret Salas

    I love the cabinets converted to bird cages. I am looking for a used cabinet to convert it for my parakeets.

  • Josephine whipp

    Just in the process of building a new outdoor flight for my canaries.we got a second hand conservatory, are we ok to use the double glazed units or will the birds flt into it?

  • Josephine whipp

    Sorry I meant fly into it. Love what you have done.

  • Brent Jones

    For birds that chew wood you can glue or screw plexiglass sheets over the exposed wood but make sure there is not an edge they can grab with their beak. The slick surface has nothing for them to grab.

  • Heather

    I really want to make a hutch into an aviary for my finches but from what I’ve read oak, walnut and cherry wood is toxic to birds. It’s hard to find any second hand hutches/cabinets that aren’t made from these. But the info I found is all about perches and toys that they can chew. Do you think it’s safe if it’s just the enclosure made from these types of wood? Have you heard of any bird fatalities do too using enclosures made from these types of wood?

  • I’ve been planning on refurbishing China cabinets to create Aviaries and reptile habitats for years. I’m so glad it’s caught on. I find that there’s unlimited china cabinets for very affordable prices at thrift stores. So many options, sizes shapes etc. It seems the younger generations aren’t so into displaying China etc, but the love of having critters has grown. These fixtures can fit in so well with that being in mind. I hope more folks will take advantage of the nice pieces out there just sitting and give their creatures better environments to enjoy than just cages and aquariums.. The possibilities are endless.. Nice Work to those whose pics are provided.. Enjoy!

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