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Bird Shelter

Last Updated: 7/5/07

The chicken house and run facing east on 12/24/06.

Bird Shelters
My Turkey/Chicken House and Run
Photos of My Turkey/Chicken House and Run
Photos of Other People's Bird Shelters and Runs


Bird Shelters

When someone keeps turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, peacocks, or any other large, domestic or wild birds, they need to contain the birds for their safety. The shelter must provide the following: prevention of escape, protection from predators, protection from weather (wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail), room to exercise, access to light and fresh air, places to feed and drink, roosting sites, and something to do. In general, a bird shelter should consist of a house (for complete protection and roosting) and a run for exercise and well being. Most bird shelters include roosting sites (branches, wood beams), food bowls, water bowls, some sort of floor (dirt, cement, wood, etc. with pine shavings, straw, or some sort of litter), and nest boxes.


My Turkey/Chicken House and Run

I have combined the information about our turkey/chicken house and run from my turkey and chicken pages and expanded on that here. This is a history of the turkey/chicken house and run.

The house and run my chickens now live in has gone through a number of incarnations. First, it was a playhouse when we were kids, 6' x 6' x 6' with a deck on top with railings. The bottom was open then. Sometime in the 1980's, my mother decided we should get some quail and release them. As a transition between an indoor brooding box and freedom, my father took some chicken wire and enclosed the bottom of the playhouse. The quail were soon released and never seen again. We did this one more time and one time with three ring necked pheasants. They also were never seen again.

In 1992, my mother had us get a pair of Eastern wild turkeys. They also were slated for release and after a few weeks under the play house, they were let go. But, unlike the quail and pheasant, Bonnie and Clyde did not go anywhere! So, I got them to follow me back to the play house. My father built the run onto the house, and the rest is history!

The run is 14'2" x 8' x 8'5" high. The height allows for flying and me not to hit my head. A large black cherry tree goes through the roof. On two cut off branches in the cage, a board (2 x 4)was nailed which provides the outside roost. Clyde roosted on top of Bonnie's nest box after she died. He never roosted on the wood beam with Bonnie. Before the nest box, he just slept on the ground. Clyde did not fly much but he tried to flap and kick me when I was in the cage. I always carried a shovel with me inside to shove him away.

During the summer of 1998, my father replaced the big pens' chicken wire with large-holed vinyl-coated wire. He also enclosed the small pen with rabbit wire windows and plywood. A slanted roof with shingles covers the top while the floor is still dirt. The height inside the small pen is now closer to 8 feet (it was 6 feet). Then, I could close Clyde in there during blizzards, etc. to keep him out of wind and water. No matter the weather, he would not take shelter on his own. This is one of the reasons turkeys are considered stupid but they certainly are smart in other ways.

By 2000, the turkeys were gone. The cage was empty for a year and then my mother got chickens. During the time that we had the chickens, I made a number of modifications. After the foxes dug in and killed my rooster Beebee and hen Salty, I laid chicken wire on the ground all around the perimeter of the house and run, and use sod staples to hold it down. When Pondet had two chicks, I used chicken wire to divide the run into two sections. That was temporary.

On 12/16/06, Speckles attacked his father, Sugar. Sugar would not go inside the house to roost. That would not do because I was worrying about the foxes and weather. The run has no protection from the weather. So, on 12/23/06, with some help from my father, we used vinyl- coated wire, cable ties, the wooden beams, and u-shaped tacks to divide the inside chicken house into two sections. I also replaced the opaque greenhouse plastic that was over three of the windows with plexiglass. The fourth window was already plexiglass. This lets in a lot more light, plus I can remove the plexiglass in the summer to allow for air flow so Sugar can have fresh air and light even though he is now confined to an area about 6' x 3' by 6' high.


Photos of My Turkey/Chicken House and Run

I realized I did not have a lot of good photos of my chicken house and run so I took a bunch on 12/24/06. The photos will show you how the chicken house and run is built and situated in our woods. Some of the photos show chickens and the nest box (originally built for Bonnie the turkey). I walked all around and in the chicken house and run to get a variety of photos.:

The chicken house and run facing northeast. Sugar can be seen in the house through the open door that goes between the house and the run.
The chicken house and run facing north. Sugar can be seen in the house through the window.
The chicken house and run facing west. The cinder block is where the foxes dug in; I just left it there.
The chicken house and run facing west. The ladder is from the old playhouse when the top of the house used to have a look out.
The chicken house and run facing southwest.
The chicken house facing south. You can see Sugar through the plexiglass in the house.
The inside of the chicken house facing north. The photo is a little blurry but shows Sugar in the chicken house after we put in fencing to divide the inside of the house into two so Sugar could be protected from his son, Speckles. You can see the low roost (an old sassafras branch) that Sugar uses, the heated water bowl, the food bowl, the commercial chicken nest box (that never a single chicken has gotten into), one of the plexiglass windows, and the vinyl-coated wire separating Sugar from the other three chickens.
The chicken house inside, top. This is a look up into the top of the chicken house where the girls (Poulet and Pondet) and Speckles spend 95% of their time, up on the beam that used to be the support for the upstairs floor of the old playhouse. My father when he put the roof and cathedral ceiling in wanted to cut out the support beam but it is lucky that he left it. The chickens roost on it, 6 feet up! If not for that high roost, the foxes would have gotten all five chickens that I had at that time instead of the two that were roosting on the low roost. The beam also serves as a support for the fencing we put in to keep Sugar separate from his son and the girls. You can see the cable ties holding the wire to the beam. In this photo, Speckles is on the main beam, and you can see his mother, Pondet's head as she is standing on a smaller beam against the far wall.
The nest box. Originally built for Bonnie, my Eastern wild turkey hen, the nest box was later used by the chickens to lay eggs. Pondet hatched Speckles and Sprouty in that box. [A snake ate Sprouty when she was a month old.]
The chicken house and run facing north. This photo I took from inside the chicken run, facing the chicken house. You can see Sugar through the plexiglass. The cinder blocks were placed there a long time ago, I think in response for my desperation to keep foxes from getting into the house if they had dug into the run.
The chicken house and run looking up. This is a view looking up on the side of the chicken house where it meets the run. You can see the support structure and all the sticks that accumulate on top of the wire.
The chicken house and run facing east. This is a complete view that I also put at the top of this page.

I took this photo on 6/29/07 to show Pondet roosting on the outside roost with 6-week old Chickie to show how high they really were. It also shows a lot of the chicken's setup.
Chickie and Pondet roosting on the outside roost that is in the run.


Photos of Other People's Bird Shelters and Runs

Joyce sent these four photos of her wild turkeys and their run on 5/21/06. The pen is 75' x 12' in size and contains two adult male wild turkeys, two adult female wild turkeys, an adult peacock, and the offspring of the wild turkeys (five eggs hatched via natural incubation on 5/21/06). There seem to be some white birds in there too? The photos are a little blurry.
Cage with turkeys and peacock
Cage with turkeys and peacock
Cage with turkeys and peacock
Cage with turkeys and peacock


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Go to the Main Bird Index.
Go to the Chicken Index.
Go to the Turkey Index.
Go to the Pond Bird Index.
See the master index for the bird pages.


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