The Aviary at Waddesdon Manor

Filled with colourful and exotic birds, the Aviary was a 'must-see for Baron Ferdinand's guests when doing a tour of the garden in the 1890s. Beautifully restored, it now takes part in important conservation breeding projects of endangered species.

The Aviary

The structure is made of iron, and is painted and gilded in the style of a Rococo trelliswork pavilion - reminiscent of those erected at Versailles and Chantilly in the mid-18th century. Aviaries were often a feature of Rothschild gardens, although this is the only one which still exists today. Comprising primarily of perching birds, there are also pigeons and doves, pheasants, barbets and turacos to be spotted.
The Aviary was a 'must-see' for Baron Ferdinand's guests when doing a tour of the garden in the 1890s. Ferdinand was particularly fond of the birds who would come to the front of their enclosures to be fed with treats by him. His sister, Alice, continued this tradition.

Watch the story of Waddesdon's Aviary

Aviaries were an important part of many Rothschild gardens all over Europe in the 19th century. This followed a custom established by rulers and noblemen from the late 1600s, when owning exotic birds and animals was also a display of power, wealth and knowledge. Waddesdon's cast-iron structure, erected in 1889, is similar to trelliswork pavilions designed for the gardens of Versailles.

Conservation and projects

The team at the Aviary are involved in a number of national, European and global captive breeding programs and many birds bred here have been returned to their native countries to take part in reintroduction projects. Our conservation fund, sustained by public donations collected from the Aviary Grotto, currently supports projects in Indonesia.
The Aviary's conservation fund supports the Begawan Foundation in Indonesia. The foundation was established in 1999, and the Rothschild's Mynah (Bali Starling) Conservation Project was its first initiative, aiming to save this critically endangered bird from extinction. Named after the zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild the Rothschild's Mynah bird (Leucopsar rothschildi) is endemic to the island of Bali, Indonesia. 
Distributed across an extremely small wild range and with a tiny population which fell to just 6 birds in 2001, it's still suffering from illegal poaching for the cage bird trade. Having bred this species since 1971 at Waddesdon, in 2011, 4 females were bred here at our aviary and were sent to Bali to improve the genetic pool of the foundation's breeding programme. 
The programme had the first of many successful releases into the wild in 2012. Find out more about the project and the Begawan Foundation.
Become a volunteer in the aviary at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Help out in the aviary 

We are looking for volunteers to help us in our aviary. Help feed and care for our species of endangered birds. Opportunities available for Fridays, Sundays or Tuesday, 8am-12pm.

A Rothschild Mynah bird in the Aviary Manor at Waddesdon Manor

Saving our critically endangered birds 

Around one third of the species in the Aviary are at risk of extinction to some degree. Many are from Indonesia, where the wild birds are threatened by the rapid rate of deforestation and the illegal trade in cage-birds. We participate in captive breeding programmes with the aim of reintroducing birds into their native habitat. This is supported by donations collected from the Aviary grotto.