Health and Care
This page has been created to aid in discussion of all problems that bird breeders encounter. Please feel free to submit a question or answer to any of the items listed below.
It is envisaged to automate the posting feature here, but until this can be completed (NT restriction), please e-mail your questions, answers and photographs.
of antibiotics in various disease conditions
Disease or Disease Agent Antibiotic Route
Myccoplasmosis Erythromycin Injection
Ornithosis, psittacosis Tetracyclines Oral/Injection
E. coli septicemia
Spectinomycin or ampicillin
Salmonellosis Spectinomycin Injection
Furazolidone or Nitrofurazone Oral
Sulfadiazine + Trimethoprim Oral
staphylococcosis Penicillins Oral/Injection
Gentamicin or Polymyxin
Pseudotuberculosis Tetracyclines Oral/Injection
Candidiasis Nystatin Oral
Aspergillosis Amphotericin or miconazole Oral/Injection
Favus Griseofulvin or miconazole Topical
Miconazole powder Topical
Spectinomycin and other
similarly acting antibiotics Injection
Urinary tract infection Tetracyclines Oral
Eye infection Oxytetracycline aqueous drops Topical
Upper respiratory tract
Spectinomycin + Lincomycin
Sulfadiazine + Trimethoprim Oral
Bacitracin spray powder Topical
For more information on
Avian Diseases and Medicine see Elisha W. Burr's
book "Diseases of Cage Birds" ISBN 0-8138-0362-4 TFH
References: Elisha W. Burr's "Diseases of Cage Birds"
Other interesting site on diseases in Pigeons
and Poultry but basically the
same as the diseases effecting finches:
A - Z Poultry Disease Index
Antibiotics European & Miscellaneous Pigeon Supply
One of the "must have" very handy and inexpensive 55 page manual by Dr Danny Brown on
Microscope Use and Pathogen Identification in Birds and Reptiles available from the ABK or the QFS
1 - Melanism and Leucism:
This bird has developed many black feathers
in its plumage. Is this a disorder or a mutation?
Submitted by: John Quatro Date: 18/7/1998
Occasionally, birds develop partly dark or totally black plumage, according to Cornell Lab of Ornithology this is because an abnormal amount of dark melanin pigmentation is produced.
Checkout these links below, on Melanistic and Leucistic Birds
Melanistic and Leucistic Birds
Melanism and Leucism
Albino, Leucistic & Melanistic creatures
2- Bacteria infection:
It looks as if these birds have some kind of intestinal Bacteria infection many a time Salmonella, Coli or Candida. Check out the links bellow
Digestive Disorders of Pet Birds
Diseases in Poultry
Digestive Physiology of Birds
What Is the Proventriculus?
3 - Rickets:
The young Red Siskin with bent feet has died from "Rickets". Could Rickets be cured at this stage, the bird looked perfectly healthy?
Malnourishment is often associated with rickets, the primary cause of rickets is a vitamin D, calcium and phosphate deficiency. See the links below on Rickets:
Metabolic Bone Disorder: Rickets
4: Foot Problems
There are many reasons why would a bird have sore toe or a foot, more often it's scaly feet, mosquito bite or a broken toe, check out the links below:
Nails and Beak
This is the reason why not to give either wild or captive birds synthetic materials to use for nest building. This is a wild European Blackbird I caught after noticing at the feeder something was wrong with its feet. I managed to cut and pull all of the string out. I cleaned, washed, disinfected and applied some ointment on its feet and released the bird. If it survives the first couple of days then I believe its feet will gradually get back to normal despite losing the rear and the inner toe on one leg.
5 - Gout in Birds
of the wild doves at the bird feeder I noticed was limping had abnormally red
feet. I suspected Gout but could be some kind of external skin infection.
Check this out:
Gout in Bird
Avian Gout the Cure
Male Red-backed Wren fighting through the wire with the White-winged Wren
ended up losing part of its rear toe.
6: - Scaly Mites
Scaly mites can also
infest the area around the eyes or mandibles as in this bird.
This is caused by small mites and their continuous burrowing activities: side of the beak, head, skin of the eyelids, ventral region and feet are usually effected. The only birds in my aviaries that I had to treat occasionally were Chaffinches and Goldfinches, fortunately this is easily treated with various preparations like: Liquid Paraffin, dissolved Condys Crystals, any Mineral oil, etc. simply by brushing onto the effected area. Some more expensive medication like Ivomectin will also do the job. About three to four applications are necessary, one every three days. I soak their feet in warm water for about two minutes then wash their feet with soap, soak for another few minutes to soften the skin, pour some disinfectant then cut all the dead skin with small scissors, disinfect the feet again then apply Liquid Paraffin or Petroleum gel. If this condition is left untreated for to long it will cut off blood circulation resulting in loss of toes, or feet. By applying these ointments we only suffocate those burrowing mites who are on the bird but their environment also needs to be looked at. Perches, walls, food and water dishes, cages, floors etc. should also be cleaned and disinfected. If the birds are kept indoors, good air circulation is required.
Scaly Face Mites
7: - Raptured Air Sack
I had young birds with inflated side of the neck before but never as bad as this guy, he eventually died the same day I found him.
Check out the link about a week old pigeon with Ruptured Air Sack
Ruptured Air Sack
Raptured air sack
8: - Air Sack Mites
Important to know: Most birds have 9 air
- One interclavicular sac
- Two cervical sacs
- Two anterior thoracic sacs
- Two posterior thoracic sacs
- Two abdominal sacs
How Air sacks work
Air sac Mite Infection
Air sac Mites
The Respiratory System
9: - Mandibles
This bird has lost its upper and lower mandible.
Submitted by: John Quatro Date: 18/7/1998
It is important to see an Avian Veterinarian. The bird must have had some kind of nutritional deficiency together with fungal or bacterial infection. Chaffinches need lots of live food, if can't supply live food why keep these birds? Soft food and live food would keep him alive, until you see the Vet.
Beak Problems / Deformities
10: - Lumps
I have this Lined Seedeater with a lump on its head (probably a tumor) could it be removed?
Is is best to see qualified avian veterinarian, see the links below.
Leg Tumor Removal
Lumps, Feather Cysts, Tumors
Lipomas (fatty cysts)
11: - Lipoma
Lipoma cyst in young Hooded Siskin
Lipomas (fatty cysts)
12: - Aspergillus
Young Red Siskins died for no apparent reason its crop was still full.
is the most common causes of respiratory disease in young birds, primarily a respiratory disease,
infecting lungs and air sacs, but it can affect any organ of the body by traveling through the bloodstream or by growing through an air sac into the body cavity.
Often caused by stress, malnutrition, vitamin "A" deficiency (common with all-seed diets), confinement/environment, and prolonged use of antibiotics. Aspergella, as well as other fungi, grows readily in damp, dark conditions with poor ventilation. Fungal infections are always related to the environment in which the bird is kept.
Aspergillosis will kill the young birds in the nest but
not necessarily effect the parent birds. Young birds are often found dead with their crops
It is not same as Candida (Candida albicans)
Medication: itraconazole, amphotericin B, Fungilin, Nystatin
For more info check out the links below:
Mycoses and Mycotoxicoses Aspergillosis
Canker (Trichomonas gallinae) is a protozoan organism that is commonly found in the mouth,throat, gastro-intestinal tract and upper respiratory tract of birds.
Canker In Birds
14: - Candida (Candidiasis)
Candida albicans (sometimes referred to as monilia) is a fungus that grows both as yeast and filamentous cells. It is normally present on the skin and in mucous membranes such as the mouth, the gut, it can effect any organ in the body.
will result in nesting diarrhea of gummy consistency which
often fouls the feathers and plugs the vent, the chicks are listless, feathers fluffed up,
head drawn back and eyes closed.
If possible, use of antibiotics should be discontinued during a candida infection.
Medication: Itraconazole, Amphotericin B, Fungilin, Nystatin
Candida Infections in Birds
Yeast Infection in Birds
Candidiasis in Birds: Signs, Treatment, and Prevention
15: - Megabacteria, now called Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY)
Avian Gastric Yeast (Megabacteria)
AGY - Megabacteria
16: - Gizzard and Proventiculus
6 main causes of erosions in gizzard and proventriculus
I left four young Siskins in a small cage one Sunday morning out in the sun , when I came back only three were in the cage, I found the head of the fourth about 2 feet away. I suspect a large black and white cat. I would like to catch him, What do I do?
Why, or should I
ask? Cat are sometimes good to have around the house, they control mice
population around the aviaries.
Submitted by: Date:
18: - Yellow skin in the corner of the bill
One of my birds has yellowish skin in the corner of its bill. Definitely not Canker
See (6) Scaly Face photos above.
Why are my birds always sick?
It only takes 6 hours if the conditions are right for mould to start growing on Fruit,
Soft food and Sprouted seeds.
Sprouted seeds are only second to unclean water dish for spreading disease in
Aviaries. This mould grew in only 48 hours. There is a golden rule we all must remember
and this is to never leave Soft food, fruit or sprouted seeds over night in Aviaries.
This is the seed I kept for planting, by zooming in with a camera I discovered they were moldy. Shouldn't be fed to birds!
My Red Siskins have molted
or are molting (I am not sure). The females have lost all their head
feathers. They look
in a very bad condition,
all the males are OK. What should I do and what should I give them?
This usually happens to birds kept indoors, I also occasionally see this in my birds. To treat this I take the bird outside and leave it in an outdoor aviary for about three months and it always clears up. I believe, it must be some kind of fungal skin infection or an allergy. I even at times wash the bird using medicated shampoo, dry it well before leaving it in an outdoor aviary. One think is for certain, they do benefit from good air circulation, exposure to a direct sunlight, sand bathe, clean water provided daily to bathe in etc. I am not aware of any other proven treatments for birds but there could be, it is best to consult your veterinarian. If it's the feather mites that are causing it, you would know it, believe me! Another possibility is if the male is to aggressive or if kept with other birds that are nesting, the birds will cause this to each other, often bolting out of the nest attacking any bird in the vicinity of their nest, flying away with beak full of feathers.
21: - Psittacosis
Oriental Greenfinch with Psittacosis Oriental Greenfinch 35 day later
Paited Bunting with Chlamydia infection
Note: the lump above the eye is pushing the lid upwards
Chlamydia in Birds (psitacosis)
22: - Conjunctivitis
My bird has conjunctivitis what do I do?
Important: Conjunctivitis in finches can be caused by many bacterial infections, psittacosis, viral infections, spiral bacteria, fungal infections, contact, toxins and so on.
How do you treat conjunctivitis in finches
23: - Cataracts
Very old Hooded Siskin, blind
Cataracts in Birds
24: Preening gland
This young Hooded Siskin is a victim of a continues attack by a large European Greenfinch, with an abscess on its preening gland.
Swollen Joints could be an injury or caused by Paratyphoid
After the swollen joints dry up (from the pus formed around the joints) the wing will drop a little, it will never go back to normal. If both wings are effected the bird will probably never fly again.
14 year old Red Siskin -male
Coccidia of the world
What to you use to control coccidia ? The name of medicine and
There are many medication that will control Coccidia, one of the most popular and probably the best is the Baycox. Dosage is 2ml/L of water , usually it is two to three day treatment or until cleared.
only voice my opinion from my experience mainly through reading and keeping
birds. In 95% of cases twirling is an infection of the vestibular organ in the
inner ear in some cases it is fungal and in some bacterial infection but
it also could be viral, parasitic or toxic. Tumors or lesions of some kind or
a good nock on the head could also have the same symptoms. Although Veterinarians and some Aviculturists claim that
it can be cured, it is more likely you'll end up losing the sick birds (especially
finches) then actually curing them. Veterinary Science is improving daily and
hopefully soon quick and accurate diagnosis will be possible. Over 20 year period I had three birds with twirling
symptoms, I tried everything possible but every time the bird died. In my opinion if the birds were given
proper care, environment and diet twirling would be unheard-off. Never
ever keep too many birds in a cage or an Aviary.
What is too many? --- More then one breeding pair or more than four young, if kept in a cage.
important that all heated hospital cages have good air circulation, I find that
a cheap computer fans that are available from about $4 each at any computer
market are perfect for this job. Air should never be pumped into the cage, air
should be sucked out of the cage and two small 25mm (1 inch) square fans are
just about the right size for a 700mm x 300mm x 600mm hospital box.
Check this out - http://msucares.com/poultry/diseases/solutions.html
Photos taken on the 12/12/02, the chicks are about 10 days old, hatched one day apart.
Stunting Syndromes of Chickens
What to do for a stunted baby
30: Trimming mandibles
Trimming an overgrown upper mandible
Beaks are mirror of a birds health
31: Overgrown bill
A little bit of TLC and 'look at me now' (About 6 months later)
European Goldfinch with overgrown bill, both the upper and lower mandibles are
evenly overgrown and had to be trimmed on regular basis. In most cases it is either the upper or the lower mandible that need trimming. Birds in this condition cannot feed properly and often die from starvation. I found this bird in a bird-shop, it was in poor condition. This bird (male) recovered well and now it looks like a normal Euro. Goldfinch.
(No, it is not C.c parapanisi)
The most common cause of egg binding is lack of calcium in the diet. When I walked into an aviary in which I kept a pair of Hooded Siskins, I saw the female sitting on the perch breathing heavily. The first thought was that it must have had some nasty infection from eating something bad, like paint, lead etc. I looked at the abdomen, it was swollen, I wasn't suspecting egg binding, so I refilled the water dish to which I added "Triple C". I gave the birds three drops directly into the beak and walked out. I returned in about an hour and the bird wasn't much better so I gave her another couple of drops of medicated water thinking 'this bird is a gonner'. The following morning I found the bird perfectly normal, flying from perch to perch, assuming 'whatever it was the medicine must have done the trick'. As I was walking out of the aviary I saw something white on the floor that looked like an egg, I picked it up and yes that was a soft shelled egg that I haven seen for quite some time in my aviaries.
Hooded Siskin's cone or pear shaped egg
Hooded Siskin hen laid large egg 21mm x 16mm
34: - Toxic
Avian Toxic and Metabolic Diseases
Vomiting in birds
Young Grass finch, with face disfigured and crossed mandibles, and a normal Grass finch.
It is not clear what caused it, if it's proven to be genetic then the parents should be separated. If it happens again and if it's proven that one of the parents did this then that bird should be replaced. Then again, it could have been accidental at hatching, an insect or another aviary bird could have done it, etc. This bird died soon after fledging.
This is another orphan (Noisy Mynah) I found on the floor after a very windy day. This guy will be ready to release in a day or so!
Overweight Madagascar Weaver Male
39: - Hernias
Blue-faced Parrotfinch female after laying continuously for 2 years
ended up with this, probably hernia. I moved the bird into a holding aviary, she eventually recovered. First photo taken on the 20/Aug/12, second on 25/Aug/12 the third
on the 15/Sep/12 and the last on the 16/Mar/13
Birds can get hernias, too
40: Interesting Links
To John Quatro