Home | General Bird Care | Diagnosis and Treatment of Ailments Afflicting Parrots, Canaries, Finches, Mynas and other Cage and Aviary Birds – Part 1

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ailments Afflicting Parrots, Canaries, Finches, Mynas and other Cage and Aviary Birds – Part 1

As with all pets, a nutritious diet and proper environmental conditions are the most important factors in maintaining the health of captive birds. When health concerns do arise, you should seek veterinary assistance. The following information will help you to identify, avoid and treat (while awaiting a veterinarian’s advice) commonly encountered bird ailments. It is a good idea to always have on hand a basic first aid kit, such as the VSI Pet Care Kit

Please remember that many bird-borne illnesses are transmittable to people, where they can cause severe or even fatal reactions. Consult your doctor concerning appropriate preventative steps, even if your bird is healthy. Emerging diseases, such as Avian Flu and West Nile Virus, should also be discussed.

A Word about Stress
After working with hundreds of bird species over several decades, I can say with certainty that stress is one of the most important underlying factors affecting the health of captive birds. This applies to a greater or lesser extent to different species and individual birds, but it is of concern to all.

Unfortunately, the problems caused by stress often manifest themselves in ways that seem unrelated to stress, and so we may wind up treating an illness but neglecting its underlying cause. For example, the fungus Aspergillus is common in nearly all environments and causes healthy birds no trouble at all. Years ago, however, bird keepers noticed that birds of many species became ill with Aspergillus infections (Aspergillosus) when moved from one cage to another. Samples taken in zoos showed that this occurred despite the fact that fungus levels were the same in both cages.

The explanation is that the transfer of a bird from its usual home to another is an extremely stressful event, especially for secretive species (i.e. birds of paradise in zoos, or certain finches in the pet trade) or shy individuals. The stress weakens the bird’s immune system, and pathogens that were otherwise destroyed by it now render the bird ill. So common is this phenomenon that many zoos now routinely medicate birds before moving them to new exhibits.

Immune system stress can arise from other factors as well – threatening cage mates, noise, poor diet, inappropriate temperatures, boredom and so on. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your pets, and provide them with the proper captive environment.

Eye Ailments

Red, swollen or closed eyes are indicative of an infection or traumatic injury. Please be aware that such is also seen in birds infected with Psittacosis, a serious disease that is transmittable to people.

Apply an ophthalmic ointment or drop (drops are often washed away by the eye’s secretions). Be sure to keep the cage bars and perches clean, as birds often rub sore eyes on these.

Check back on Wednesday for the conclusion of this article.


  1. avatar

    I have a Cockatoo, one side of her nose has a clear discharge, “runny nose” It has been going on for a couple of months but seem to be bothering her. This morning it was the worse I have seen it.
    I have been increasing giving her orange slices, she seems to like them.
    Any advice i would appreciate it.

  2. avatar

    Hello Maryann, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    It’s probably a low-grade infection, restricted to one sinus cavity. There is problem with leaving such infections unattended, even thought he bird appears in good health otherwise. The bird is battling the infection, and over time the stress of this will weaken its immune system. At that point the infection will flare up and become more serious, or the bird will be open to attack by bacteria and other pathogens that might not have caused a problem under other circumstances.

    Providing additional fresh fruit is always useful but, unfortunately, this will not cure the bird. I suggest you have the bird examined by a veterinarian – a round of antibiotics should do the trick. Please let me know if you need a reference to an avian veterinarian, and I’ll check if I have a contact in your area.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    Thank you for the advice. I have made a appt. at the vet. I think it is time to get her a antibiotic.
    I always try natural remedies first if possible.
    Thank you again, Mary Ann

  4. avatar

    Hello Maryann, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback and kind words.

    I hope all goes well,

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    i have a pet cockatiel and lately upon entering her room I itch…my bird sems to be ok but im worried about mites or smething serious…please help

    Gale & Kit

  6. avatar

    Hello Gale and Kit, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Mites, lice and other bird rarely parasitize people, but the possibility does exist for some species; please see this article on External Bird Parasites for more info. A visit to your doctor and to an avian veterinarian would be the safest course of action.

    Cockatiels and other cockatoos produce dust-like powder down which is shed into the air. This can affect some people, but usually shows up as respiratory distress or eye inflammation…however, you should mention this possibility to your doctor as well.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  7. avatar

    my canary looks like its gasping four breath with its mouth open all the time, wat can i do? thanks.

  8. avatar

    Hello Eric, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Gasping/open beak breathing can be a response to high temperatures (esp. if throat is flapping). However, it is also a typical symptom of many ailments, including gapeworm (mainly in outdoor aviaries) and common bacterial infections. Outside of temperature, it is impossible to diagnose the cause of the gaping without a vet visit; this should be done ASAP, as most infections spread rapidly and are fatal if untreated. Please let me know if you need help in locating an avian veterinarian.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  9. avatar

    We have a greater sulphur crested cockatoo who has been vomiting 4 about a month. Took him 2 the vet & she tested his vomit then put him on antibotic shots 4 6 days. Also, his xRays show he has a very enlarged liver w/daek specks in lower portion of liver. He cannot keep down water or food but still want 2 eat. is he slowly starving himself 2 death? The shots do not seem like they r working. Pls. Advise…

  10. avatar

    Hello Libby, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog and sorry for difficult situation. Unfortunately, the symptoms you describe could be due to a number of underlying conditions. Obviously, it is a serious situation and, as you suggest, starvation is a possibility if the bird does not digest its food. You may wish to consult a veterinarian specializing in avian medicine. Please check here for a list provided by the Association of Avian Veterinarians. If none are convenient, call the closest to you and ask for a reference…it’s a relatively small field, and practitioners tend to know one another.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  11. avatar

    Thanks for your site…
    I wish I was kidding about this. We have a young golden caoped conure, the bird starts to doze off allday long then does this sort of angry chittering to wake her/himself up and the process starts all over, If I didn’t know better I would say it’s some sort of bird narcolepsy or massive sleep deprivation? WHen the bird chatters to wake up we have the distinct impression the bird is cranky. THis is the most active quirky conure we have had. Any ideas, anything is really appreciated, I apologize for ascribing mammal ailments to birds( overworked psych major) but honestly “narcolepsy’ is what keeps coming to mind… I just want to be able to help the poor thing sleep restfully.. Thank you for your time!

  12. avatar

    Hello Carrie, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest and the kind words. You’re description is fine…this is not a typical situation. The simple answer would be disturbances at night…sometimes things happen that we are not aware of – passing car lights, a cat that looks in the window regularly, noisy pipes and so. Most parrots need appx 12 hours of sleep each night. Here’s a related article.

    Unfortunately, sleepiness can, as with us, be indicative of a wide range of other problems. I’ve not run across narcolepsy-type disorders per say, but a breathing problem could be preventing the bird from resting well at night (as in apnea). I’m assuming there are no signs of bacterial infection – wheezing, listlessness, etc. Radiographs might be useful to check for obstructions in the nasal passages, etc; stool/blood tests probably a good idea to rule out other problems that might be involved. Please let me know if you need help in locating an experienced avian vet.

    Sorry I could not be of more assistance, but tests etc. are the best way to go.
    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, and please keep me posted; it will be very useful to me if you would let me know how all progresses.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  13. avatar

    HEre’s a bit of new realized information, “Tracy” our golden capped Conure dumps her water we put out a bowl and she drank, and drank, and drank some more so we ahve giving ehr water when she ahs time out socializing so she actually drinks it. Once it is bed time we cover the cage, but systematically she is somewhat like a rooster at the first ray of light she is up squawking and seems to choose to stay up later than our other bird… Responsibly I’d love to say we have the finances for tests.. we don’t, I do however apprecaite the suggestion, as it is I am the only one working, 13 hours a shift, school, and being wife, Mom, and animla “Mom”. IS there much hisotry of birds having disorders liek people do, or rather is it even a possibility in that they are rather different we will keep you posted, she eats well, plays, and is fairly young, vocal and relatively happy seeking affection all the good things well, other than nodding off we don’t see a lack of normla happy/ healthy bird behavior. She does not wheeze subconsciously or well she has an odd range of noises that are in her vocabularly that she uses when spending time with us, but like a person’s vocabulary they are in certian instances, not active coughing, no signs of infection we are thinking her cage may be too small we have a cat condo( no cat) taht Tracy has as her perosnal play area and she sleeps restfully on that. The only draw back is she would be out a lot and enjoys climbing down and gently pecking my feet. Thanks again !

  14. avatar

    Hello Carrie, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback. It’s a good sign that there are no symptoms of bacterial infection and such. Parrots are very complex creatures; in the wild they are always on the go, in close contact with as mate and many others, spending most of the day looking for food, and so on. Captivity is a thus a quite un-natural state. Always best to provide the largest cage possible, and plenty of interaction, but even given that they often pick up odd behaviors that are difficult to understand, especially when housed alone.

    Waking at dawn is normal, but it may help to darken the room and cage as much as is possible.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  15. avatar

    Hi Frank, we’ve been hand rearing a canary chick for almost 8 weeks and have been trying to wean it by putting it in a cage with another young canary. We still give it some food but have been trying to give him less so he starts eating on his own. He had been nibbling a mix of cake and eggs and also dried food but he is not eating any birdseed and is getting weak. Is there anything we can do?

  16. avatar

    Hello Sharon, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest. That’s quite an accomplishment, congrats. I’ve actually been meaning to write an article on this topic, thanks for the reminder.

    The transfer to whole seeds is always difficult; especially when siblings and parents are not present. Very good idea to house it with another youngster, that will help. To build up its strength for now, try adding crushed softbill pellets (Softbill Select or a similar product should be accepted) to the diet, along with a vitamin supplement. Egg Food has broken seeds and additional nutrients which may be of use now as well.

    Seeds that are just beginning to sprout (please see this article for Sprouting info) will attract attention and will encourage the bird to begin picking at the soft seed itself. I also offer soaked seeds (non sprouting) to young seed-eaters; wheat Cous Cous, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes or so, is used by a friend with success also.

    Begin adding crushed seeds (coffee grinder, pestle, etc.) to the bird’s egg-cake mix, and leave some scattered about as well.

    As you know, canaries can decline very rapidly once compromised. If the bird does not perk up soon, it would be best to see a vet….the immune system will weaken in time, leaving the bird open to severe health risks.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  17. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Can you tell me how old is it safe to separate gouldian fledgelings from their parents?

    I’ve got a clutch of 6 lovelies who are 6 weeks old and their parents are in the nest again. They’re eating alone and I don’t see them begging. I would like to remove them next week just before the next clutch hatch but don’t want to risk moving them too soon.

    Re that little canary, he is still not eating seed on his own, he doesn’t fly onto perches but seems happy enough. We hope one day he will realise he’s a little bird and fly up to be near the other canary 🙂


  18. avatar

    Hello Sharon,

    Congrats…6 chicks successfully reared means you have given the adults very good care. You can separate them now…in fact, the parents may start harassing them as nesting progresses, although there’s lots of individual variation in that regard.. In any event, its easier for them to rear the new batch w/o other birds present.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  19. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and your help.

    I’ve moved the chicks and all’s well. Will be moving my next clutch hopefully next week. I’m having a very successful season, it’s my second year breeding birds so I’m very happy to be doing well. I’ve had 2 other clutches, one of 6 (1 yellow one died so 5 left but all independent) and another of 4 and both sets of parents are in the nest again. I’ve also got another clutch of 5 which I’ve just ringed a couple of days ago and they’re looking good too.

    I had a disappointment this week, I had 2 Cherry finch chicks that were doing just fine, flying about happily, parents feeding both, both were beginning to eat on their own and one evening I found one had died. This has me a little bit puzzled because as I said there was absolutely no indication that anything was wrong. Usually you can pick out a weak chick but these seemed to be as healthy as possible. Anyway the remaining chick is doing fine and the parents are also building another nest.

    Oh and by the way, the 6 chicks I had asked you about had been tossed by the father but I found them in time to put them back in the nest. He tossed one out again and I put it back but put in a separator so the male couldn’t go near the chicks. I allowed him supervised visits only for a few days as he was frantic to go to them and removed the separator completely when I figured they would be too big to toss…and it worked 🙂

    I have 2 pairs of gouldians I wanted to ask you about, first is blue male and green female, they’ve laid 3 clutches of 6 each time, incubated properly but they didn’t hatch.

    The other pair are blue male and split to blue female and although they are both in and out of the nest and building she has never laid any eggs although she is over a year old. So my question is do I give up on the first male and the second female or is there still a chance for either of them?

    If they’re no good for breeding would it be ok to change their partners this season or should I wait till next season? It seems a bit cruel to me to separate them as both pairs have bonded. What do you think?

    Thanks and regards,

  20. avatar

    Hello Sharon,

    Thanks for the most interesting update and kind words.

    Very interesting re the male that had at first tossed the chicks…I’ll keep it in mind for other readers; great job.

    On the Cherry finches: during my years at the Bx Zoo, necropsies on various species that died w/o symptoms often revealed developmental abnormalities – heart/circulation problems and such, just as sometimes unpleasantly surprises we people. More common with birds bred from same line/population., but pops up everywhere.

    Infertility is a tough one…pl check out this article when you can. Most of it is info that you’ll be familiar with; in Gouldians and other pet trade species, inbreeding is a good guess, but not by any means certain.

    Waiting or splitting the other pair are both good options. Finches do not seem to bond in the same ways as do some parrots, geese, raptors, etc., so re-pairing is easier to accomplish and not as stressful as with others.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  21. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Here’s an update on things so far.

    The canary chick finally died, poor baby never really took to eating seed, didn’t stand a chance 🙁

    The 6 gouldian chicks were moved successfully and are doing fine. Their parents have 2 new chicks. They were tossed out together with a half hatched chick. I was too late to save the half hatched chick but the others I put back and in went the separator again. But…. it was the hen that was tossing the chicks and not the cock. She tossed one out again and both times I put the chicks back and didn’t use the separator of course. She accepted them and they’re doing just fine now and are 7 days old.

    I also changed partners of those pairs that were not doing well so far. I put the couple (cock not fertilising eggs and hen not laying) together and they were fine together but the other 2 pairs have been fighting. One pair has settled down but I’ve split up the other pair because the cock was too aggressive. He kept chasing the hen and wouldn’t let her go on any perch but kept her limited to the bottom of the cage.

    I’m thinking this is a territory issue so I’ve removed the cock from the cage completely. My idea is to introduce him to the female rather than vice versa as I just did. Do you think this will help or should I give up on this partnership?

    I’ve also discovered that I’ve got a silver chick and am as pleased as can be. I’ve got a cock that I think of as silver but I’m a bit puzzled regarding silver and pastel blue birds as I’ve seen the same colour bird referred to as both silver and pastel blue (a very pale fawn, almost silver body, with a pale fawn head and very pale silvery blue line around his head). Do you know of any link that shows gouldian colours?

    Another clutch is fledging and the first 2 chicks have jumped out of the nest today. Another chick also jumped out but was so very tiny and didn’t have all his feathers so I put him back in the nest with the remaining chicks which are much bigger than him. He wasn’t pushed out at all, I actually saw him popping out and he was so keen to jump out and I kept saying to myself ‘go back in, you’re not ready yet’ but he persisted and out he came. He’s so tiny that he almost fell through the wire on the bottom of the cage!! Is it usual for one chick to be that much smaller than the others? They are 23 days old and I know they all hatched on the same day. I’m keeping an eye on this one because he seems too lively for his own good.

    Will let you know how it goes.


  22. avatar

    Hello Sharon,

    Thanks for the update; sorry about the lost chick, but you’re gathering a great deal of useful info; I hope you’re recording it.

    Captivity changes everything, esp. where breeding, territory is concerned. Many animals that breed easily and are quite common become problematical in captivity…applies from insects to elephants, in my experience. Instinctual urges become frustrated and so on, mates cannot move far enough away to thwart further breeding attempts, etc. I once had 5 white crested laughing jay thrushes co-exist for years in a small aviary; I gave them an adjoining cage also, when it became empty, and next day 2 were dead. Having enough space to est a territory was, in this case, a negative; same happened with Cuban crocs that had lived together for a decade…so there are few general rules.

    Territory/space is likely involved in problems you describe – re-introducing the male to the female’s cage is a very good idea, but not always successful.

    There seem to be hundreds of possible color variations…I don’t have a good photo source at hand, but this site seems to cover the actual genetics involved, may be of use. I recall several Gouldian Finch books that had extensive photo galleries..I’ll try to come up with names.

    A tiny chick is odd, but it does happen; getting enough food, re competition form others, will likely be main concern.

    You might enjoy these articles on Gouldian Finch “cheating” and head-color research.

    A happy and healthy season to you and yours, Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  23. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    Thanks for your help and the links. I do record everything I observe and discover because I believe it’s the only way to understand the birds. It really helps and I’ve saved some of my birds through observing them.
    The little chick died and I was quite angry because he was the only one that didn’t jump out of the nest (after I put him back) but he had grown so much he just needed a couple of days to be out. I have suspected for quite a while that the nests I was using were not suitable for clutches of more than 4 gouldian chicks and now I am quite certain I’m right. In Malta the most commonly found finch nests are the wooden ones with a slit for an entrance (they are not very deep). I’ve found that these are ok for 4 chicks maximum because as soon as they are old enough the chicks are constantly looking out and therefore block the entrance. This means that the biggest 4 chicks are fed constantly and the parents cannot go into the nest because these 4 chicks are blocking the entire entrance. They also cannot reach inside the back of the nest to get to smaller chicks. If the bigger chicks start jumping out relatively early, the smaller chicks have a chance but if they are lazy and stay in the nest longer than 22 days, the smaller chicks don’t stand a chance. This is also the reason why some chicks remain smaller than the others as they don’t get fed as often as the bigger chicks.
    I’ve been switching my nests to deeper boxes with a round entrance. The benefits of these are that only a maximum of 2 chicks can peep out leaving 3/4 of the round entrance free for the parents to pop into the nest and get to all the chicks. They also can stand on the hole and lean inside without going in the nest and still manage to reach all the chicks, unlike the other design. Unfortunately in Malta the latter boxes are not always available so what I’m doing is having my own nests made.
    I’ve got more chicks in nests now and am hoping this breeding season continues on the same lines.
    Will let you know how things go every now and again.
    Wishing you and your family a happy New Year.

  24. avatar

    Hello Sharon,

    Thanks for the update; very good point re the boxes, and makes perfect sense. I’ve read some field studies (other species) that have linked chick deaths to a shortage of suitable sites/inability of parents to feed, etc.

    Hope all goes well now, look forward to your updates,

    A happy and healthy new year to you and yours, Frank Indiviglio.

  25. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    Hope you are well.
    I have a small aviary 5″ x 5″ x 2.5″ and I would like to either put male gouldians in it or smaller finches (breeding pairs) such as star, cherry, owl and strawberry finches in it. Can you tell me how many birds I could put in if I put gouldians and how many breeding pairs of the smaller finches if I decide to put them there?
    Also can you explain to me a little bit about the breeding season, when I see the breeding season explained in months it is always for Australia or America but as I live in Malta, the climate and seasons are a bit different so I wondered if you could give me some idea of how I should calculate start and end of breeding season?
    Is the breeding season for strawberry finches the same as for gouldians and other Australian finches?

  26. avatar

    Hello Sharon,

    Fine here, thanks, hope you and yours are well. Thanks for raising this interesting point. In captivity, some animals maintain the seasonal cycle of their natural habitat via an “internal clock”; for example, Sambar Deer under my care at the Bx Zoo continued to give birth in mid winter despite being many generations removed from the wild…mid winter in NY is spring in s. India.

    Other species adjust after a few generations, or immediately. Many from harsh habitats, such as budgies, will reproduce whenever conditions are favorable. Some (many frogs) can be tricked into believing it is spring if you change day length gradually and provide artificial rain storms.

    Breeding in most birds is strongly influenced by day length; those from the southern hemisphere, such as Gouldians and other Australian species, will generally breed in the spring when they are kept in the northern hemisphere; i.e. Malta. Even if not outdoors, they tend to sense day length via windows, temperature plays a role also, perhaps barometric pressure. In darker rooms, putting lights on a timer, to mimic local outdoor conditions, helps.

    So, Gouldians and many other Australian finches breed during Nov-March in the wild, but could be expected to breed from May through August/Sept in Malta. Malta seems about at the same latitude as Atlanta Georgia, USA (via quick look at map, not exact), so you can use info from that region of the USA, and most everywhere else in the states.

    With Gouldians, diet changes are also very important in stimulating reproduction, more so than for many other species, it seems…increases and decreases in certain nutrients play an important role. I can go over that if you wish when you are ready. Malta’s summers will be hotter than most those in the SE USA, but this will not affect breeding season onset/length.

    Gouldians can be bred in groups, and this may even be more effective than single pairs. However, large aviaries are typically used. The enclosure you describe could theoretically house 2 pairs, but care would need be taken re aggression. A single pair would be preferable.

    Same re the others; owl and star finches might be the best choices if you’d like to try 2 pairs. Extra nest boxes, outside the cage with a door leading into the cage, are helpful. Overcrowding may result if many chicks fledge, as parents may try to drive them off, so you’ll need to plan for new homes ahead of time. Individual birds vary a great deal when it comes to mixing pairs, or different species…if you experiment, it would be best to have additional cages on hand.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  27. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    Hope you are well.
    Am having a problem with a siver male gouldian. He was tilting his head to the right so far it looked like he was trying to rub the back of his head on the perch. He kept losing his balance and falling off the perch repeating this on the floor and falling over sideways. It looked like he was having the human equivalent of a stroke. This lasted for around 15 minutes and he is now more normal but is still tilting his head slightly to the right and is trying to scratch his head.
    In the past I would hear a thump and look at his cage and he would be on the bottom but flies up immediately. I thought he was just landing clumsily because he is quite a big bird but I’m now sure this was the beginning of what’s going on today.
    Do you know what could be wrong and if there is anything I can do to help him?

  28. avatar

    Hello Sharon

    Fine here, thanks; I hope you are well. Unfortunately, what you describe could be related to a host of underlying conditions, often neurological/cardiac (as you suggest). No way to diagnose w/o a vet visit. Keep him calm until then, limit work in cage etc. Please let me know if you need assistance in locating a local avian vet,

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  29. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks so much for your help. It would be great if you could put me in touch with an avian vet.

    Incidentally the bird is so very much better today. There was no repetition of the fit he had yesterday and he seems absolutely normal. His female has eggs and he is spending lots of time in the dark nest which I am hoping is helping his recovery.

    Best regards,

  30. avatar

    Hello Sharon

    Thanks for the feedback; good sign that he is otherwise behaving normally. I’m not sure of your location, but this site has many resources that will allow you to locate an avian vet in the USA, Australia and elsewhere.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  31. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    Thanks for this but no avian vets in Malta. We have one vet who says he’s an avian vet but I’ve not been happy at all on the few occasions I had to contact him.
    Unfortunately my silver boy is not doing so good. He’s had a couple more fits, one going on as we speak and he is now permanantly twisted to his right. I don’t think there is anything I can do for him but I do wonder if a good vet would help. The alternative is one of the online vets but I don’t know how qualified they are. Do you have any experience of online vets? What bothers me most is I don’t know if he is suffering really. He eats pretty normally and I’ve kept him with his mate as I know they get very sad when separated and she stays near him when he’s having a fit on the bottom of the cage and I don’t think he’s in pain most of the time, but I don’t really know 🙁 It’s very painful for me to watch him having one of his fits, it looks absolutely terrible. It looks as though he’s dying and then the next minute he’s up on the perch, then it starts again. I know he won’t make through his next moult but I would like to know if he is suffering and if there is anything else I can do for him. I welcome any advice/ideas/thoughts, thanks.
    Best regards,

  32. avatar

    Hi Sharon,

    Sorry to hear the bad news. Dr. Kevin Wright, on of the USA’s leading exotic animal vets, provides consultations via internet. You can say you were referred by me if you decide to contact him.

    Best regards, Frank

  33. avatar

    Thanks Frank, I will be in touch with him and will also keep you posted.
    Thanks again,

  34. avatar

    Hello Sharon,

    Thanks for the feedback; even if treatment is not an option, Dr. Wright will be able to answer the questions you have concerning quality of life, prognosis, etc.

    Good luck, and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  35. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    Hope you are well.
    I thought I’d give you a littel update on my silver gouldian. I tried emailing Dr Wright but never got a reply. However I’m VERY pleased to report that my silver boy is absolutely fine 😀 He has moulted without any problems and is looking great. He seems to be completely over whatever was causing those fits and he is looking healthy and beautiful.
    I didn’t do anything except to keep him as quiet as possible for a while, apart from that no special treatment as I didn’t know what I could do to help him. He had the usual vitamins and calcium treatment I give to all my birds, other than that nothing else.
    I still don’t know what was wrong but it seems to be over.
    All my other birds are fine and I’ve expanded from one bird room to two and I’m looking forward to the coming breeding season.
    Best regards,

  36. avatar

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for the update and good news; very unusual in my experience – bird usually do not fare well w/o treatment after exhibiting symptoms of severe problems. Perhaps a passing viral infection that he battled. Good luck in the upcoming season – I think it would be a good idea to breed that little fellow – strong genes!

    Best, Frank

  37. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    Hope you are well 🙂
    I have a small aviary with a pair of owl finches, a pair of star finches and a pair of strawberry finches. When I was setting it up I also put in a pair of cherry finches but the female cherry fought terribly with the female star. I couldn’t understand why because neither were breeding, the only thing I can think of is that the cherries are the biggest of the lot so perhaps felt more dominant (no problem with the male though).
    I removed the cherries and there is perfect harmony in the aviary, however ideally the cherry finches go back to the aviary….but I have doubts/concerns. The other finches have established their territory now and even have their own nests. The cherries are moulting so I thought perhaps they will be less likely to fight at this time. I’ve thought of putting the male cherry in first and after a few days putting the female in, thinking perhaps she will be the last in, so the least likely to bully the others. Do you think it’s possible that they will be calmer this time round or do you think it’s wiser to dismiss the idea completely?
    This is basicaly a space issue as I had wanted the gouldians to be all in one area and the other finches in another and the cherries are the only ‘other’ finches left in the gouldians area and I need their flight cage for the gouldians.

  38. avatar

    Hi Sharon,

    Sounds like you’ve done a fine job in establishing a nice group of birds, I wouldn’t push my luck with the cherries. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as breeding condition alone, where captives are involved. A mixed species aviary is an inherently unnatural situation, so many other factors come into play. I’ve had jay thrushes live together for years, then kill one another the day they are given a bit of extra room (battle for territory). Much depends on size, planting arrangement etc., but a re-introduction will be more difficult now that the residents are well-established. The cherries may also battle even harder, sensing that space is now less available. keep an eye on fledglings as well, as the dynamics of the aviary may change when they appear.

    Interesting note, thanks, please keep me posted, Enjoy, Frank

  39. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    How are you?

    Here’s some news from my aviary. The first bit of news is that I had time off so decided to try the cherries again in the aviary as I had time to watch closely in case things got out of hand. I put the female in on her own with the other finches and left her a few days thinking she would feel less dominant without the male and things seemd fine. I added the male and no problem, they went on to build a nest and now have chicks 🙂

    The next bit of news is a bit of a cuckoo tale – I have a pair of strawberry finches that kept laying eggs but they never sat on them. I also have a pair of owl finches who lay quite regularly and are great parents. The strawberry finches decided to take over the owls’ nest, they laid their eggs and were sitting quite dedicated this time. After a few days the owls decided they wanted their nest back and took it over. After some time I could hear chicks and I thought the timing coincided with the strawberry incubation and was too early for the owls. Well a few days ago 1 chick (the only one there is) fledged and surprise surprise it’s a strawberry 🙂 It is very tiny as it jumped out too soon but is doing very well. Its owl parents are very caring. I am thrilled to have a strawberry chick and also very pleased to see the owls fostering another chick. The only sad thing is that in the meantime the strawberry hen died so I’m happier than usual with the little chick.

    My breeding season has started and my first gouldian chicks hatched this week. I’m enjoying my birds this morning as I don’t work Saturdays so I spend most of it in my bird rooms.

    Bye for now,

  40. avatar

    Hi Sharon,

    Fine here, thanks. I hope you and yours are well.

    Glad to hear of your success, and thanks so much for the interesting observation. I don’t recall hearing of owls finches rearing chicks of others. I’m going to forward to several friends who will be very interested. I’d enjoy updates when you have a chance…some species pick up the calls and even behaviors of foster parents; not only finches – I recall a peafowl chick that was raised by wild turkeys, at the Bx Zoo, very interesting!

    Stay well, enjoy, Frank

  41. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks for your encouragement as always.

    I already have some observations that may be interesting. First of all the chick is now up on the perches as of today. Fantastic news because he jumped out too early so I’m so very glad he’s made it 🙂

    Since the owl finches had clutches of their own before this, I noticed some differences even when the strawberry finch was still in the nest. The owl finch chicks were always very shy whenever they saw me looking towards their nest they would always duck, this chick wasn’t shy at all and would preen his feathers turn round and play even though I would be looking at his nest. Since he fledged I’ve noticed a couple of differences too. Whereas the owl finch chicks would cuddle very often with their parents and the parents would constantly be at their side cuddling and grooming them, this chick hasn’t cuddled at all and I haven’t seen them grooming him. He is totally independent and even though they are very attentive if another bird goes near him, they feed him constantly and they encouraged him to fly to the perches when he was still at the bottom of the aviary, that’s all they seem to be doing , no cuddling or grooming which they were constantly doing when they had their own chicks.

    I am going to try and take some photos to send you but they are very shy when feeding him and fly off if I get too close.

    I have had some setbacks in the aviary though. I had what I think is an air sac mite infestation and 2 birds were pretty bad, the strawberry finch hen (the chick’s natural mother) died and a male star finch died a few days later. The same day the star finch died, a parrot finch hen died too. I noticed her at the bottom of the aviary in the morning, she came down after I turned on the light and she didn’t seem poorly but it was unusual for her to be at the bottom as they are usually at the very top of the aviary. When I came back from work she was dead face up and there were feathers all over the place, someone had plucked her underside bare. I was wondering whether you could tell me what would cause another bird to pluck her and do you know if this would have happened when she was alive or after she died?

    I don’t know what she died of but I’m very curious to find out why she was plucked, none of the birds in the aviary are aggressive at all and I find this very strange.

    I ringed my first gouldian chicks of the season yesterday 😀

    Bye for now will send you some photos soon,

  42. avatar

    Hi Sharon,

    Very interesting info, thanks so much and looking forward to hearing more.

    Plucking is difficult to explain; aggression can be very sudden and unexpected, as you know, but I have seen other species take feathers from dead birds for use as nesting material. If feathers are near body, perhaps they were loosened as a result of whatever ailment caused the death. An autopsy would be ideal, if that option is available; bodies need to be refrigerated soon after death, however, but always a chaqnce that something useful will be revealed.

    Congrats on the Gouldians, Enjoy, Best, Frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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