by Brian Sweeting

In my professional life I was employed as a Planning Engineer (I am now retired) and one of my many responsibilities was for the environmental concerns in the factory where I worked. In industry as in our normal lives standards have been enhanced by the introduction of government legislation to improve the well being of our health and the planet. The experience gained from maintaining the many systems installed to clean up a chemical plant has led me to adapt several industrial ideas into my private life which will hopefully benefit me, my family, and of course the birds.

I do no sweeping in the birdroom nowadays. This alone reduces the amount of dust in suspension. A vacuum system, which I have adapted from a conventional household wet & dry vacuum cleaner, is installed as a permanent cleaning aid. It is used at all times (see sketch no 1 for details). I have also made up several different ends to fit the vacuum cleaner flexible hose which allow me to clean the floor, cages and nest boxes as well as the general dusting around the birdroom. I would estimate that this improvement alone has reduced the dust in circulation in the birdroom to approximately half of the previous amount.

This system is supported by good airflow through the birdroom from low-level air intake at one end, which passes through to a high-level positioned vent axia fan. The fan is switched on a timer and runs from 07-00am until 10-00pm each day. The airflow passes an ioniser en route, which polarises it. This action allows some of the dust to fall to the floor and some continues on and passes through the fan, to the outside world (see sketch no 2, cross section of birdroom). High-level dormer windows and vents each side of the breeding area maintain a cross flow of air, and also allow hot air out during the summer months.

I have also manufactured a portable filter unit (see sketch no 3) which incorporates a 12" (300 m/m) 240-volt household fan (you may use any size fan available, but big is best). This is set into a small box made of plywood with one end open and slots cut through the outlet side of the enclosure. The top of the unit has a filter screen fitted across it. The filter material used is simply a household fibre cleaning cloth (Jeye cloth). Air is drawn down through the fan and passes out through the bottom slots. The unit is mounted on a small table, which is fitted with castor type wheels. Although it can easily be moved around, it is usually positioned below the ioniser to catch the polarised dust as it falls. You could also, if you wish circulate air freshener by pouring it on to the filter cloth (aniseed is a particularly nice to smell in the birdroom). This unit is cheap to make from around 35.00, depending on the size of the fan. It is of particular benefit during the summer months when there is less natural draft through the birdroom. If you are not the practical type the safari select air filter would carryout the same duty but would cost approximately 150.00.