Author Archives for tauridvm

Are pellet diets harmful to birds?

Pelleted diets are far superior to seed diets. They can be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are many brands on the market, but any chosen should have been through extensive feeding trials. Brands I recommend include Harrison’s, Lafebers, ZuPreem, Roudybush and Mazuri. Birds usually must be trained to eat pellets unless they were weaned onto them as chicks. Pellets come in various sizes and are usually sold for specific species. Continue reading

Should I quarantine and provide preventative medicines and cures for communicable diseases to my new birds before introducing them to the rest of my flock?

Yes you should quarantine new birds rather than just introducing them to your flock. Do not however treat with pet store antibiotics or other over the counter medications.

The new birds may or may not have anything that the resident flock may have. Just giving medication when there is no reason to do so creates problems. The new birds should be taken to an avian veterinarian who will take a sample for culturing and antibiotic sensitivity testing. The veterinary will also give a physical examination to the bird including weighing, listening to heart and respiratory system and other parameters. In some cases blood testing may be done. Continue reading

Does it hurt my female to let her lay eggs?

A hen on a good diet can lay a clutch of eggs without causing metabolic deficiencies. The problem in many situations is that the hen lays more than two clutches per year. That can weigh heavily on her calcium supply and general metabolism.

If the hen is on a pelleted diet she shouldn’t have any problem laying 2 clutches per year. A hen on a seed-only type diet many get into calcium deficiency laying that second clutch. Hens that lay continuously on any diet get into calcium deficiencies, and in that case we step in with a medication (lupron) that shuts down sex hormones and stops the laying cycle so the hen can replenish herself. Continue reading

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.

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Which human foods are safe for my birds?

Foods to avoid include anything that is human junk food, high in fats. Avocado is generally toxic to birds. I would avoid any processed food especially if it contains xylitol. Fresh produce (vegetables and fruit) is usually preferred as supplements.

If the finch is on a good pelleted diet, then supplements should only be fruits and vegetables. If the finch is on a seed diet, then produce is necessary to get adequate vitamins and minerals. A seed diet can also be supplemented with bits of whole grain bread or oatmeal. I recommend getting your finch on a pelleted diet, occasionally with crushed nutriberries (Lafeber company) and greens (such as parsley, cilantro, leaf lettuce, etc).

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Should I use the grate on my cage floor?

I recommend removing it and just use newspaper, brown paper or paper towels on the floor of the cage. Food items dropped there allow the birds to forage on the ground, a natural behavior. Change the papers daily.

They will avoid their droppings so don’t worry about them spending time scrounging around on the cage floor. I have observed finches in the Northern Territory of Australia – they feed on the ground.

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

Why is my male bird fighting with his babies?

I am assuming the chicks have fully fledged and are not food dependent on the parents anymore. In the wild, the chicks would leave the parents, and so there would be what is perceived by the male, direct competition.

It is recommended you remove the chicks from the parent birds due to this competition and territoriality factor.

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

Why won’t my female finch stop laying eggs?

This is a multi-factoral problem. There are cues in the cage, cage furnishings, light cycle, nutrition, and other birds present that keep the hen “in season”. A seed diet may exacerbate this as it is high in fat. Hopefully this bird is on a pelleted diet with greens available.

Does the bird have a natural light cycle (meaning short days in the winter) that we could manipulate back to the short day, long night cycle: i.e. 8 light, 16 dark. Sometimes removing the nest housing and nesting materials helps – some hens though just lay in their food dish. Try for sparsity of toys/no mirror or reflective surfaces may help.

If this doesn’t work, your veterinarian can administer an injection of a synthetic hormone which stops sex hormone production and brings the hen out of lay. This is often the best way to go, and it gives the hen the much needed rest. I take it from the question that there is no male. Two females housed in the same cage may both trigger each other for laying. It is a complex problem.

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

Do I have to clean the feces inside my bird’s cage? If so, how?

Yes its necessary to keep the cage clean and remove feces/urates (white part of the dropping) preferably on a daily basis. Line the bottom of your cage with newspaper or paper towels. These can be rolled up and disposed of daily. Remove the grill in the bottom of your cage if it is present or just put the cage papers on top of it.

Perches can be washed and dried as needed. I use the back of a table knife to scrape droppings off of perches. You can use a dilute vinegar and water solution (1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup water) for a cleaner to wipe down soiled cage bars. Water dish should be cleaned daily. Anywhere there are droppings you need to removed them preferably daily.

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

I just found an abandoned wild baby bird in our yard and gave it to my pet bird to foster. They seem to be doing great. Is this ok?

If the pet bird is feeding the baby wild bird, then leave it be at this time since you are unlikely to reunite the wild bird with its mother. There are some viruses and bacteria that wild birds may carry that could infect your bird.

At this time, I would let things continue since it seems to be working. However, if the baby wild bird becomes much larger than your (I am assuming finch) then it could become too much for your bird to do. Watch your bird closely for signs of fatigue and weight loss.

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

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