Raffertys Family of Bird Keepers
Highly Commended is Rafferty Houston, who shares his love of bird keeping with his family and, like Theo, recognises the many benefits and responsibilities bird keeping teaches. Rafferty also wins a 12-month subscription. 

My dad and my brothers got into bird keeping at the same time I did. My dad kept birds when he was younger and always wanted to keep them again. So we started our adventure with a pair of Moustache Parrots. We took a long drive to the Tweed River to get our first pair. I named the male Bobcat Jack and my brother named the female Donuts. 

We kept them for a couple of years with no attempt to breed them. Eventually when we did try, we had no success.



Aviaries

We later purchased a pair of Plum-headed Parrots and a male Alexandrine. This is when we started to build aviaries. We used 25mm aluminium square tubing and plastic joiners to make the frames we wanted. Dad cut the tubing as my brothers and I put the frames together. As they were suspended aviaries, we used timber posts and old tennis court fence posts as rails for our cages to sit on.



I have my aviaries set up with one-third fully enclosed and the other two-thirds fully open to allow the birds to play in the rain and bask in the sun. I use a shade cloth band across the top of the open section to allow the birds to have another option to cool down.

I use ceramic water bowls and stainless steel food dishes. For the birds’ natural enrichment, I have a plastic tube in the open section of the aviary which I use as a vase to hold native plants for the birds to eat. All perches in the aviaries are natural branches.



With the Plum-heads successfully breeding in their first season, we decided to purchase a female Alexandrine. Apart from George, my pet Rainbow Lorikeet, we now had three pairs of Asiatics and we were determined to stick with them. We had a successful season from the Plum-heads and Alexandrines, and finally one chick from the Moustache Parrots, so we purchased some Ringnecks and two young Malabar Parrots from different locations. 

Diet

The family all help to prepare the healthy foods for all the birds.



My dad, brothers and I all help out with the care and maintenance of the birds and aviaries. Our birds get fresh seed and water every morning, along with a mixed supply of fruit and veg morning and afternoon, including apple, corn, carrot, chilli, passionfruit, capsicum, peas and beetroot. 

There's always shell grit and cuttlefish on offer and a regular supply of native browse, gum nuts and other bush treats. I use a Gerni™ high pressure washer when breeding season is over to completely clean all the aviaries.



Conclusion

We have now added a few more aviaries, a young male Slatey-headed Parakeet, homemade veggie gardens, and the Malabars are on their chicks!
I enjoy my hobby with my family because I can build things, watch things grow, be responsible for something and learn.