New multi-unit aviaryLe Nichoir has received generous grants from LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and TD Friends of the Environment to build a new multi-unit aviary that will facilitate optimal care for songbirds and insectivorous birds, including threatened species.

“We’re thrilled to have these two organizations supporting our project,” says Susan Wylie, the Centre’s Executive Director, who helped to launch a funding drive in January. “We hope to have all the money in place this fall.”

Depending on their design, aviaries can play a key role in bird rehabilitation, especially in the case of small insectivorous birds like swallows and swifts. After visiting aviaries at more than a dozen facilities in North America, the Centre chose a hexagon shape for the birds’ new state-of-the-art home.

“The problem with rectangular aviaries is that birds can’t get that circular momentum,” Susan explains. “They perch, go back, perch – they’re not maintaining a constant flight.” In a hexagon-shaped aviary, birds can sustain a longer flight pattern, which better prepares them for migration and survival in the wild.

The proposed new aviary, which forms part of Le Nichoir’s project for a New Centre, will contain six hexagon-shaped aviaries, each 310 sq. ft in size.

“What’s nice about it is each of the aviaries is connected and the partitions can be removed to make them into larger flight cages to accommodate larger birds,” says Susan. “So we’ll have more flexibility to accommodate birds according to their specific needs.”

The aviaries, three on each side, are divided by a corridor that will be used for food preparation and cleaning and will act as a contamination barrier. Each flight cage will also have its own drainage pipe and water tap.

“It’s all to make sure the birds don’t contaminate each other,” Susan says, “because we have received such a large number of birds and species at one time.”

With more than 1,500 birds arriving at Le Nichoir every year, the Centre has faced a challenge providing adequate housing and the best possible conditions for a full rehabilitation in the existing flight cages, built 15 years ago.

While these flight cages will continue to house larger birds primarily, the new aviary will make bird watching easier for visitors young and old, who can tour the Barn throughout the summer season (mid-May to end of August).

“Because of the design, there’s less of a visual barrier for people,” Susan says. “It’ll be easier for us to show the different species of birds currently at Le Nichoir, but the birds will still be able to hide from view if they like.”

As one of the few facilities in Canada that rehabilitate songbirds, including threatened species like the Barn Swallow, Le Nichoir will be breaking new ground with its hexagon-shaped, multi-unit aviary.

“We think that for songbirds, this hasn’t been put in place” elsewhere, says Susan. “So (Le Nichoir) would be one of the first.”

If you’d like to help Le Nichoir reach its goal of building a new aviary, please contact Susan Wylie, Executive Director (450 458 2809 or

LUSH Fresh Handmade CosmeticsTD Friends of the environment Foundation