First we discussed the idea between the rangers, and manager to see whether this would be feasible at our park. We went to other parks and looked at their enclosures, asked how much they spent on food, care, etc… We made sure we could support the program, by having enough rangers who were interested, and money in the budget for the program.
Once we established that the ongoing costs of time, and money would be able to be covered, we started looking into the more immediate needs of building the enclosure itself. We contacted David Haggard, and he mentioned that he preferred the hexagon designs due to the practicality of their design and the aesthetic appeal. He gave us some figures about how much the enclosures would cost. We then had to pick a good location and design for the enclosure.
We wanted a public location for the passive programming opportunities, and accountability. We also wanted a location that would face south so that the sun would assist with keeping our birds comfortable. We selected a site next to our office at the park entrance.
This location also provided us with a nearby source for electricity and water. There was also the benefit of an extra room we could use for placing a freezer and other necessary supplies.
Our first designs as most do started on a piece of scrap paper (or several), but apparently trying to think about hexagons is a bit confusing, so we moved up to trying to cut pieces of paper to show our ideas. This led to us trying out a neat new tool, Google Sketchup. Google Sketchup is a free program that allows quick easy 3d designs, and can be as detailed as you want. This ended up being very valuable to us.
Making a 3d model in Sketchup allowed us to show off our idea very effectively to get grant money and donations. It also gave us a lot of ability to test out our design ideas without spending money. We developed our model further, and got it to a scale accurate board to board exact plan for building our enclosure.
This was a really awesome resource to be able to bring to a meeting with our builders in the friend’s group, so that we could discuss any complications ahead of time. When it came time to go purchase materials we could literally pull them straight from the plans, and save on waste. We even were able to print out our cuts and check our angles.
We tried several things to creatively fund this project. Based on what we had learned from talking to Haggard, and other rangers we set our budget at $6000.00. We started a “Fundly” crowdsource funding site, we applied for local small grants, we provided some from our park budget, and in the end of course our Friends group was the biggest supporter of the project, both in funds and labor.
Building the Aviary:
It took us basically a full year to complete our construction of the aviary, we used on site materials for some of our construction, which added a nice rustic touch, and also saved money. All of the labor was done either on shift, or as volunteer labor. So that conserved a lot of resources. We also saved a lot of money because we had such detailed plans. The actual build did of course vary from the original plans, but we were able to adjust our plans as we changed strategies since it was all done in house.
We had to check with the powers that be while we were finishing up our enclosure to make sure that everything we were doing would be the best for the birds and our work with them. The biggest snags we hit in our build were caused by us trying to deal with outside vendors/workers. We originally were trying to get a metal roof donated or even contracted, but that did not pan out. We also had a slight delay when we ordered our metal fencing (predator protection) from an out of state company. Other than the few hiccups we hit, and the start of a busy summer interrupting, the build went very well.