fetching finches

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COMMON AILMENTS IN FINCHES... and how to prevent them

Signs of a sick finch may include: refusal to sit upright (squatting on perch like a pigeon), tail or wings dropping, puffed up feathers, squinting, sitting on the cage floor, wet vent, irregular droppings or refusal to eat. Ailments birds can fall into four categories: Congenital defects from genetics; developmental problems as a result of injury, poor husbandry, malnutrition or improper incubation; Infectious disease curtesy of viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites; and trauma, like fractures or leasions. Birds are great 'actors' and will not show weakness or signs of distress until it is too late. If you notice illness, take the immediate steps below:

Immediate action:

  1. Remove the bird and place in a quarantine cage with extra heat and humidity to prevent the spread of the disease, and allows the bird some peace and quiet. Heat should be provided by a UV heat lamp, this provides extra antibodies and valuable nutrients.
  2. Supply water with a vitamin supplement/pro-biotic and re-hydration liquid (1/3 strength), as many times they are weak and will eat and drink less. Offer extra egg food, as the proteins will help in recovery.
  3. Make a note of specific symptoms, including the feces color and shape.
  4. Determine the cause and treat accordingly
Common disorders:
  • Aspergillosis
  • Air sac mites/Mites
  • Beak flaking/cracking
  • Conjunctavitis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Cuts and Scraps
  • Egg Binding
  • General unwell, from virus or bacteria
  • Malnutrition
  • Lack of feathers
  • Parasitical worms
  • Scaly face

For common conditions with Neonates (Nestlings), please refer to this section.

Symptoms: gasping, wheezing, coughing or a change in voice for vocal birds.

Causes: fungal infection caused by mold. 

Treatment: Good husbandry and antifungal such as itraconazole .


Symptoms: Air sac mites infect the respiratory system. It can be a fatal but is most commonly found in Gouldians. 

Causes: Transmission is caused by breeding cycles (parents to young and during courtship). Symptoms may include a gaping mouth, cough and loss of voice.

Treatment: Insecticide containing ivermectin will eradicate the mite. Ensure you treat all birds and not just the infected.


Mites and lice on the surface can be treated with Avian Insect Liquidator

Or Ivermectin


Symptoms: Beak looks as if it is flaking, pale or cracked

Causes: Vitamin A deficiency/ Malnutrition

Treatment: Follow Advanced Nutrition


Symptoms: Wet vent (rectum) and diarrhea, lethargy

Cause: Parasite found in the intestinal lining easily transmitted to other birds through interaction and feces.

Treatment: There needs to be a diagnosis for this usually through a fecal slide. Sulfonamide is the preferable antibiotic for the treatment of Coccidiosis in water. When administering ensure the cage is cleaned daily with a product like F10 to prevent re-infestation.


Symptom: lesion which breaks the skin.

Cause: Numerous causes, usually aggression related.

Treatment: Assess the severity, and then apply antibiotic such as Terramycin.


Symptoms:  Female finches will show sign of discomfort on the bottom of the cage. If the egg does not pass, she will die.

Cause: Lack of calcium and beneficial fats. To absorb calcium, they must also have viable amount of vitamin D through natural sunlight.

Treatment: Give the bird a dose of Cod liver oil, a calcium supplement in the water, and a shallow warm bath. Placing coconut oil near the rectum may also help with lubrication.


Symptoms: Lethargic, puffed up feathers with diarrhea that may be a green color.

Cause: Fluctuation in temperatures, damp environments, constant drafts, viruses or exposure to bacteria (spoiled food).

Treatment: Broad spectrum antibiotics are available off the shelf at local pet stores are often a good idea after correcting the cause of the illness.


Number 1 cause of illness.

Symptoms: generally unwell, especially lethargic and may cause feather loss or flaking beak. Leaves bird more susceptible to other disorders.

Causes: Insufficient nutrients or calories. Correct immediately.

Treatment: Follow the protocol

Please see these websites:
Lady Gouldian Poopology


Symptoms: Lack of feathers

Causes: Lack of feathers on head and neck are most likely the cause of lack of Vitamin D through sunlight. Feather loss on the remainder of the body is often attributed to bird aggression, protozoal infection, molting or malnutrition.

Treatment: Follow steps for Advanced Nutrition if it is malnutrition or molting. Observe the cage for aggression and other symptoms such as diarrhea and separate birds if necessary.


Symptoms: Worms will be present in the finches droppings and mouth. Type of worms include:  Tapeworm, Threadworm, Caecal worm, Roundworm, Gape worm and Gizzard worm.

Causes: Exposed from another bird most commonly through direct contact of feces. 

Treatment: A Broad spectrum all wormer containing Praziquantel and Levamisole.


Symptoms: Scaly like film over the skin from borrowing mites, can become fatal.

Causes: Transmission normally occurs through breeding cycles.

Treatment: In mild cases, the treatment of the bird with paraffin (also known as paraffin oil) or Aristopet Scaly face and leg treatment


Symptoms: swollen, irritated, reddened and/or crusty eyes.

Causes: Injury to the eye, Bacteria including Mycoplasma or Chlamydia , Virus or Fungi.

Treatment: Antibiotic like Tetratex, and probioticsto prevent yeast infection.

Allow birds to self medicate before there is an issue:

Herbal Tonic © is a self medicating dried herb mix, which I developed from the years I lived in China, USA and the Middle East- exploring the medicinal use of herbs for animals and human beings. I grow, order and gather each organic ingredient and process myself. Since the introduction of this tonic, my wild and domesticated birds have not contracted a single illness.

NOTE* I see there are similar mixes on the market, but they are not as digestible as the mix I am offering. They have large piece of root and otherwise that has been processed or bleached- which cannot be consumed properly, and offers no beneficial nutrients. Pleas do your research before ordering such products... note the size of my ingredients to the right:


Supports immune system, nervous and gastrointestinal system. Strong anti-oxidant, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It contains important enzymes, rare vitamins and minerals including folic acid, chlorophyll, Iodine, and pantothenic acid promoting fertility and expelling  parasitic creatures (mites).

Herbal Tonicº is a proprietary blend that contains numerous herbs which act as natural a antibiotic, liver support, anti-inflammatory, neurological support, antibacterial and digestive aid. While the list of ingredients is too comprehensive to mention, it does contain the following:
*Contains no fillers, powders or by products and has a shelf life of 2 years. It is a ready to feed dry mix that can be left inside the enclosure at all times. Please do not grind, or add to other foods (egg food). It is meant to provide animals with self medication, therefore they must be able to pick and choose which items they consume.
This product was developed not for profit, but because of the love of my birds. What started as a scientific exploration of the species has turned into a great passion. I desire to share my findings with the world, and hope that society can learn to appreciate Zebra Finches the way I have.

Every bird adopted from Fetching Finches is provided with a supply, but the protocol should be used for all small birds all continuously throughout the year. Breeders are amazed by the increased fertility and low rate of disease, while show breeders are happy to see the increase in plumage and intense colors. Therefore Herbal Tonic° can be purchased for 8.00 usd per 3 grams (plus 6.00 shipping in USA). On average, one pair of finches will consume 1-2 grams per month.
If you notice any signs of illness, contact your veterinarian. Weakness, labored breathing, collapse, seizures, or other nervous system signs are especially serious, should be considered emergencies, and need immediate attention.

Prevention is Key!

Prevention of common ailments is the key, and this can be achieved through self medication of good hygiene practices from bird owners. Taking small steps now can help prevent disaster later.

Please see the bottom of this page for details.


Bacterial Infection
Symptoms: depressed, yellow or bright green diarrhea, discharge from the eyes or mouth

Treatment: Amoxitex 5 day treatment

(followed by probiotic, and may need antifungal)

Protozoal Infection
Symptoms: depressed, yellow or bright green diarrhea, losing weight or feathers 

Treatment: Ronex or Ronivet-S


This is a wonderful brief chart for treatment: LadyGouldian
Tip: Try adding direct oral medications to rice milk. It is extremely palatable and adds beneficial bacteria to the gut.

I place a small dish of this in a discrete location of the cage (away from droppings) and refill accordingly. They may go days without touching it, and then selectively pick through consuming specific herbs. That is my cue to increase the heat in the enclosure increasing the metabolic rate and expediting the processing of the medicinal herbs.