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Finch and Canary Diseases

Aspergillus

Aspergillus is a fungal infection that is most commonly caused by damp living conditions or stress. A bird with this disease will quickly shed weight and be constantly short of breath. This is a rare condition, but proves to be fatal in most infected birds. A vet can offer you medication which will kill the fungus, and your bird’s living conditions will need to be improved.

Avian Gastric Yeast Infection (AGY)

You may also hear the terms “macrorhabdiosis or “megabacteriosis, these are just different names for this disease. AGY blooms in finches with no outward signs of trouble. The first thing you may notice is some significant weight loss despite your bird eating the same amount as usual. Undigested food in their droppings, or vomiting and mucus are more potential symptoms. Sometimes the bacteria can infect the birds immune system, causing a secondary infection called “wasting disease” or “going light”. Your vet can give your medications to combat AGY and the diet of your infected bird will need to be changed to omit all sugary foods. AGY has the nasty habit of lying fallow for a few weeks and then blooming again.


 Scaly-breasted Munia
Disease can spread quickly in an aviary - your birds should never be as cramped and crowded as these Scaly-breasted Munia (for sale in a shop),

Avian Pox

The first tell-tale sign of this disease is breathing problems. An infected bird will sit with its beak open, breathing rapidly. Once the infection has fully taken hold, scab-like marks will start forming on the bird's skin alongside yellow ulcerations in the mouth. The infected finch Need to be separated from its cage-mates as soon as possible; though most outbreaks unfortunately result in the death of several birds due to the speed at which the infection spreads.

Bumblefoot

This is a condition that affects the bird’s feet, causing them to swell and become misshapen. Usually it’s caused by an infection associated with unclean roosting surfaces and perches. Another cause of Bumblefoot could be an over-fatty diet and a lack of exercise. Vets will prescribe you an ointment to combat the disease, but perhaps the most important treatment is to completely clean out and disinfect the cage which your birds are living in. Also supply your birds with natural wood perches that encourage them to hop around and “explore with their toes”.

Candidiasis

This is yet another yeast infection. It is caused by the Candida organism (hence the name). It can bloom anywhere in the bird’s digestive system from the crop downwards. Symptoms can be similar to those of AGY - listlessness, vomiting and loose droppings. The vomit may have a nasty smell to it and the bird’s crop can swell up with yeast gasses. In advanced cases your finch may suffer from a loss of balance and shaking fits. A vet will give you drugs to treat this illness. The Recovery process takes about a week and during this time make sure that the infected bird is separated from any other birds.

Chlamydia

Yet another yeast infection, birds with chlamydia will usually have conjunctivitis and a nasal discharge. Birds seldom die of this disease and some individuals may be asymptomatic, acting only as carriers. A vet will provide you with medication to treat this. There are other possible yeast-borne infections as well, and keeping your cages and aviaries clean is half the battle against them.

Cloacitis

Cloacitis is an inflammation of the vent, or cloaca. It tends to be more prevalent in hens rather than cocks. A swollen abdomen and sore-looking vent are the first symptoms. The bird may also be constipated, and there may be sticky faeces on the feathers around the vent. The problem is often diet related, or may occur after egg-laying. The bird will need to be netted and cleaned. A vet will sometimes recommend a zinc oxide ointment for the sore area.

Conjunctivitis

This is most common in Canaries. The most common symptoms are a rusty discharge around the eyes, sometimes even covering the eye entirely in extreme cases. The eyes will be swollen and sore-looking. In advanced infections respiratory symptoms can be, and death soon follows. The causes are varied, including bacteria, fungi, nematode worms, or physical injury. Your vet will prescribe a suitable treatment.


Red-factor Canary closeup
Canaries are prone to conjunctivitis

Constipation

If you keep many birds, it may not be immediately obvious that a particular finch isn’t pooing as freely as usual. The cause of finch constipation is nearly always dietary – the bird needs more liquid and fibre. Temperature swings can bring on the problem too. The symptoms include a swollen belly, an irritated vent, and the tail bobbing up and down as the finch strains to pass droppings. A vet may wish to prescribe water-soluble medicine, or a charcoal and cod liver oil mixture.

Enteritis

This is an intestinal inflammation that leads to diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss. It’s usually caused by rotten food, leading to infection by bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli and Pasteurella. Poor hygiene is the conduit for the bacteria, which thrive in wet conditions (making enteritis a perennial problem in Great Britain!) Exposure to infected rat, mouse or wild bird droppings is an alternative starting point. The symptoms can be treated with antibiotics and multivitamins. A diet of wet foods such as greens and soft fruits will aid recuperation. Ask your vet for advice: some forms of the infection are more deadly than others.

Mycoplasma

Infected birds have sore-looking, watery eyes, accompanied by a nasal discharge that gums up the nostrils and stains the cere. The feathers around the eyes will be dirty and matted too. Finches become short of breath, which often makes owners suspect the dreaded Avian pox; but the soiled facial area and bunged up nostrils are clues as to the true nature of the problem. The disease can be treated with antibiotics, and many birds pull through.

Polyoma Virus

This is a disease which is more common in younger birds. Symptoms of it can be lethargy, fluffed up feathers and a loss of appetite. Unfortunately this condition is not treatable and most infected birds will die of it. Birds that do survive can sometimes develop odd looking, elongated beaks. If there is an outbreak amongst your finches (which can be verified via blood tests) the infected birds will have to be isolated, and breeding should be discouraged. This will help the birds build an immunity and there will be no vulnerable chicks to catch and spread the disease.

Tuberculosis

Avian TB is deadly and most vets will recommend euthanasia to contain the illness. An infected bird will lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, have very loose droppings and be short of breath. For birds that do miraculously survive, a long-term quarantine is going to be needed.

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Comments Leave a comment

Ken, 3 November 2021

my canary ,looking real sick one eye has yellow lump just below its eye ,its eye is closed .tried eye drops .no better .what treatment do i need for it , or do i eliminate its not somethink i wish to do any help would be apricated


Mark, 23 June 2021

My canary has a sore on top of his beck


Rowena, 28 April 2021

My bird has both nostrils inflamed and on ear. Plus he has lost his feather around His eyes and now going on his head. Please help, I feel so bad for him. What anticodon I use? How much? Plus for how long. Please an S thank you.


Raymond, 23 March 2021

Hi. I had a Bullfinch cock that was opening and closing it Beak but only when it was sitting on the perch, I treated it with Moxidectin for 24 hour. But Was Dead 3 days later.......but when I opened its Beak I found very white small Balls of the problem, one of the things I took out was half curled up. The size of this was about the size of Blue maw ......can anyone tell me what I can treat please


Raymond, 23 March 2021

Hi. I had a Bullfinch cock that was opening and closing it Beak but only when it was sitting on the perch, I treated it with Moxidectin for 24 hour. But Was Dead 3 days later.......but when I opened its Beak I found very white small Balls of the problem, one of the things I took out was half curled up. The size of this was about the size of Blue maw ......can anyone tell me what I can treat please