Why do my birds keep getting sick with the common cold or other minor infections?

First of all, birds do not have what humans call a “cold”. For birds, it can be a Chlamydial organism, a Mycoplasma organism, or bacterial infection (many types of bacteria can cause respiratory disease).

Wild finches get Chlamydia psittaci which clogs up their sinuses and upper respiratory tract, making it difficult if not impossible to eat. There has also been Mycoplasma infections which do much the same thing.

In pet finches kept indoors (in our area), the most likely causes of upper respiratory infection (sinuses, nares (nostrils), eye irritation, tearing is bacteria, usually from the environment or seeds. If the finches are on a seed diet, they are vitamin A deficient. Vitamin A is needed for the health of the mucus membranes. It leaves them vulnerable to bacteria picked up from the diet or environment. This is a major reason I like finches to have a pelleted diet as the primary diet, with some seeds as “treats”.

Answered by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Dipl. ABVP-Avian Practice, Dipl. ABVP-Exotic Companion Mammals. 

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