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Archive Topic
Housing

joanne smith from omaha asks: I adopted a one legged finch. His leg was removed yesterday. How should i care for it?
Hello Joanne, I would advise you to keep him in a cage without perches for one week, then introduce perches for a week, then into aviary under surveillance for a few days.

Adding a vitamin/mineral supplement like NV Powder which also contains glucose and electrolytes will help him through this stressful period of adjustment. All the Best, Rob

Diane Malesky from Coopersburg, PA asks: We've had 2 zebra finches for approximately 6 years. Unfortunately, after much effort we've lost one. We're now down to one male. The other was a male too. They really cared for eachother. Slept together,preened eachother, etc... It's been several months now and I was wondering if this is cruel to have just one bird? I have his cage in front of the window with a huge bird feeder that has birds at it all day long. I have plenty of things for him in his cage and we put a mirror in about a month ago. He stares in the mirror. He did just start building a new nest though - for the first time. The other male was more dominant. I feel sad for him and am not sure if he's happy. My husband doesn't want to introduce another bird. Just wondering what your opinion is and if you have any further suggestions. Thank You!! Diane
Hello Diane, Zebra finches are social birds in nature. They travel in flocks, and therefore should be housed with "friends" in captivity. If you are unable to provide another companion, perhaps you know a friend who also has birds and can give your lonely pal a good home. All the Best, Rob

SERENA SOAPE from SOMERDALE, NJ asks: I have a pair of paradise whydah finches that I have had less than a month. The male in the last week shed his tail - which is normal and just in the last few days and he started sleeping a lot. Well today. The female is fine and eating and seems to be healthy. However the male died today. We took him out of the cage this morning and checked him and found nothing out of the ordinary however the other birds were harrassing him. What could have happened and what could have caused this?
Hello Serena, When birds are purchased and moved to a new home they are placed into a stressful condition. Your cock Whydah may not have been in total good health. The stress of the move, compounded by the other birds picking on him, supressed his immune system allowing some environmental contaminant to make him sick. Unfortunately, at this point it probably will be impossible to tell what organism caused his death. I am sorry that you lost this beautiful bird. All the Best, Rob

David Loeffler from Pittsburgh, PA asks: I am thinking about getting a pair of gouldians and breeding them. What would you recommend the size of the flight cage and what advice do you have for a beginner like me. Thanks!
Hello David, I would always recommend the largest cage that you can afford and have space to accommodate in your home or aviary. For a full time living quarter I would say at least 36 inches wide by 36 inches high and 24 inches deep for a pair of finches and their possible offspring until the juveniles are independant and can be living on their own.

The larger the living quarters you can provide for your birds, the more exercise they will receive and the healthier they will be. All the Best, Rob

Laura Warlick from New Braunfels, Texas asks: I will soon be building a large aviary for my birds including an outside enclosure. Is it best to keep my gouldians inside in a temperature controlled environment (our home), or will they be okay in high summer temps.? The inside of the aviary will be temp controlled if they choose to go inside. There will also be fresh cool bathing water at their disposal. Thanks!
Hello Laura, Gouldians can do well in higher temperatures. They can become stressed when temperatures and humidity fluctuate significantly in a short period of time. It is best that they are housed with as little rapid changes in temperature or humidity. Gradual changes should not cause any harm. All the Best, Rob

george simik from santa monica asks: In my bird room I have forty canaries a dozen parakeets and six conures. They are caged separately. I do have several air cleaners and I am pulling a lot of powder out of the air. Am I inviting trouble in having parakeets? It is my understanding that it is not good to have certain birds with others.
Hello George, It is best not to house Budgerigars with Canaries because of risk of Polyomavirus and Budgerigars have bacteria that may be potentially harmful to Canaries. Rob

Sandra DeSante from Philadelphia, PA US asks: My aviary is 39"x24"x48" and it initially housed 6 finches, one pair each of Lady Gouldian, Orange-cheeked and blue-capped Cordon Bleu waxbills. All seemed well. Two weeks ago 3 baby Gouldians fledged. Since then I've noticed a change in my other birds. The Cordon Bleus seem to be sleeping a lot more during the day and tend to huddle together in a sheltered spot. The Orange-cheeked female is the one giving me the greatest concern. While her feathers have always been a little natty because the male tends to pluck at her, she now looks completely tattered. Formerly very spirited she had been eating less and at times sits by herself with her eyes closed. Is it possible that the increased number of Gouldians has caused an upset? The babies are docile and finally quiet but they do fly around a lot so the aviary is less peaceful now. Do you think the problem could be due to intimidation by the bigger Gouldians? Should I house the Gouldians separately or perhaps purchase a larger single aviary? I already have them on your Turboboost, F-vite, E-powder and megamix (they won't drink water with Dufo-plus and Ioford in it) so I don't know what else I could do for them nutritionally.
Hello Sandra, I believe that the problems you are seeing are caused by intimidation from the Gouldian parents, now that their babies are out of the nest. You may not have seen it happening, but I believe that this is a big factor in the behavior you are seeing in your Cordon Bleu and Orange Cheek pairs.

Constant stress will suppress the immune system of birds, which will in turn leave them open to possible infection and sickness from environmental factors. My suggestion would be to leave the Gouldians in the original cage and move the 2 pairs of waxbills into a separate cage. After the move, you can assess their behavior, droppings and activities. All the Best, Rob

amy from oxford mich asks: Will a space heater be ok to use instead of a bird specific cage heater? Would one be better than the other? We have a Scarlett and a big room that he is in. Also, would it be advisable to purchase a new puppy since our Scarlett is our only baby (pet) now?
Hello Amy, This sort of heater is good. I use it for my pigeons. No fumes.

Do you have a Scarlet macaw? If so these are the smartest macaws and may benefit from interacting with a well trained dog. If it is happy with both of the owners, then it would be okay to get a puppy. If it is strongly over bonded to one owner the bird may have problems with a new pet. All the Best,Rob

Katherine Roberts from Jacksonville, FL asks: Is cypress bark mulch a good choice for bedding in a bird room with finches? (This 12'x5' room is indoors and has A/C, heat, and ventilation). Also, does a clicking sound from the birds always mean air sac mites When treating the birds with your S76, is it necessary to treat the aviary as well?
Hello Katherine, Cypress mulch must be perfectly dry as it carries a mould and that may cause inhalation air sacculitis. There is a number of causes of clicking sounds, the most common is caused by the airsac mite. Fungal infections and some bacterial infections may also cause a clicking sound. It is not absolutely necessary but is highly advisable to clean the aviary when administering S76. All the Best, Rob

Chris from Warren nj asks: I have two Goudians in a 32' X 21 X 60" cage. I want to buy a ceramic heat emitter for them. What size should I get 60 Watt or 100 Watt?
Hello Chris, I believe the 60 watt bulb would be sufficient. I would install it in one of those silver dome bulb holders and attach it to the cage near the top perch. That way, the birds could use it if they were chilled, but could get away from it if they didn't need extra warmth. Rob

Leo from California asks: Can Gouldian Finches be in the same cage as other finches? For example Zebra finches, Society finches, and Shafttail finches.
Hello Leo, Yes, Gouldians are very peaceable birds and will do well in a community flight. Just be sure that the flight is large enough so that the birds are not subjected to crowding which would cause extreme stress leading to a suppressed immune system and illness.

Also, when breeding season approaches, be sure that you have the correct type of nesting box for each species and that there are lots of extra boxes/baskets so that bickering does not erupt which will also lead to stress among the members of the community. All the Best, Rob

nicholas chase from brandon SD asks: I am looking at buying some gouldians from a breeder who breeds them in room-size aviaries. I, however, will be housing them in smaller breeding cages. I was wondering if this is not good because of their former housing. Would they be too cramped and not able to adjust? Thank you
Hello Nicholas, I believe that the birds raised in the room size flight could adjust to the smaller cage, but you will find them to be very flighty and easily spooked because they are not used to the smaller space. With time they should settle down, however no bird should be kept in small confinement for it's entire life. The larger the cage you can provide (5ft-6ft long x 3ft-5ft high x 3ft-4ft deep) the healthier and happier your birds will be. It is difficult to prevent obesity when the birds do not get adequate exercise. All the Best, Rob

Karen Golden from South Burlington, Vermont asks: I got a pair of normal backed gouldians a week ago from a great breeder. 1. My female, Ophelia, started shredding and eating varigated willow leaves - I don't see any ill effects. Is this okay?; 2. Can I use plastic on the side of the flight cage to act as "walls" to keep in heat and reduce drafts - worried about any toxicity issues vs. more expensive plexiglas; 3. Can I put in the insecticide containers against spiders, mosquitoes, and the Protect Cage product against mites all at the same time in the flight cage which is 4 feet bu 4 feet by 30 inches; 4. can I pick fresh herbs from outside like lavender, rosemary, and mint to let them nibble (we do have a lawn care service so I just realized that the plants might have gotten contaminated but what if we grew the herbs inside like I have a rosemary plant. 6. Can I just pick a sunflower with seeds and let them eat it? 7. Is it okay to give sugar like already sweetened, stir up Dannon yogurt or grape/cranberry juice and are these two products okay? 8. I see a lot of dyes, preservatives, and even sucrose in the bird foods - what do you think about these additives and the birds health? 9. I have a little table water fountain on the floor of the flight but can not yet get them to go down to it - any suggestions? Thank you, Karen
Hello Karen, I will repeat each question with the answers following them to make it easier to understand.

1. My female, Ophelia, started shredding and eating varigated willow leaves - I don't see any ill effects. Is this okay?; YES, AS LONG AS THEY ARE CLEAN

2. Can I use plastic on the side of the flight cage to act as "walls" to keep in heat and reduce drafts - worried about any toxicity issues vs. more expensive plexiglas; THIS WOULD BE OK

3. Can I put in the insecticide containers against spiders, mosquitoes, and the Protect Cage product against mites all at the same time in the flight cage which is 4 feet by 4 feet by 30 inches; THIS MAY BE TOO MUCH TOO CLOSE TO BIRDS. THE SPIDER AND MOSQUITOE TRAPS SHOULD BE AWAY FROM THE CAGE TO DRAW THOSE INSECTS AWAY FROM THE BIRDS. THE CAGE PROTECTOR WOULD BE FINE.

4. Can I pick fresh herbs from outside like lavender, rosemary, and mint to let them nibble (we do have a lawn care service so I just realized that the plants might have gotten contaminated but what if we grew the herbs inside like I have a rosemary plant. BEST NOT TO USE PLANTS GROWN OUTDOORS, AS YOU SUSPECTED, THAT COULD BE CONTAMINATED BY HERBICIDES OR PESTICIDES

5. Can I just pick a sunflower with seeds and let them eat it? OK IF PERFECTLY CLEAN AND DRY, BUT THESE MAY BE TOO LARGE AND USUALLY MOULD INFECTED, SO BE CAREFUL

6. Is it okay to give sugar like already sweetened, stir up Dannon yogurt or grape/cranberry juice and are these two products okay? PROBABLY NOT GOOD FOR GOULDIANS AS SUGAR CONTENT TOO HIGH. THIS WILL IRRITATE BOWEL AND CAUSE GREEN DROPPINGS

7. I see a lot of dyes, preservatives, and even sucrose in the bird foods - what do you think about these additives and the birds health? BEST IF NO SUGAR IS IN THE PRODUCTS, UNLESS THE PRODUCT IS MEANT TO GIVE ENERGY TO A SICK OR STRESSED BIRD

8. I have a little table water fountain on the floor of the flight but can not yet get them to go down to it - any suggestions? IT MAY BE IN THE WRONG POSITION AND EXPOSED. BE EXTRA CAREFUL WITH WATER FEATURES IN AN AVIARY AS THEY CAN BE A BREEDING GROUND FOR BACTERIA UNLESS KEPT PERFECTLY CLEAN. All the Best, Rob

Lora Russell from Randleman, NC asks: I recently obtained two gouldian finches (June 2005), a male born May 2004 and a female born Nov 2004. Both birds seemed fine until a couple days ago. I noticed that the female was occasionally breathing through her beak. I took both to a vet. He said that they show no signs of problems with their air sacs, but they both had an upper respiratory problem. He recommended using a humidifier. Is there any thing else, I should do? Humidity is 60%, but birds still appear to be having some respiratory problems (breathing through open beak). Any suggestions?
Hello Lora, Some canary fanicers think low humidity affects their hatching rate and humidifying the air is what is necessary to improve hatchability. However I believe high humididty (above 65%) is contraindicated for canaries, as they have no natural immunity to diseases that can result in humid conditions. All the Best, Rob

C.C. from st. louis MO asks: Dr. Rob, Do you recommend letting Lady Gouldian Finches out of their cage/aviary and allowed to fly free in a room that is safe behind closed doors with nothing inside that room that would be harmful to them? Do you think most birds would then fly back into the cage? I have a fairly large cage (30" by 60"), and they are able, and do, fly quite a bit inside. I was just wondering if they would benefit from and enjoy flying in a fairly large room with the doors closed for a period of time each day or week. Thanks in advance for your advice. I have been using your products for about two or three months and I cannot BELIEVE the change in my birds ---- they look FABULOUS, absolutely GORGEOUS --- even after a fairly ugly molt !! Not only do they look good, act well, but I know in my heart they are happy, happy, happy -- two cocks singing at their finest and two hens busy listening and acting as "lookout" when "the boys" are down at the bottom enjoying their seed. Too funny to watch them. All four have different personalities from laid- back and curious to I-will-bite-you hard if you catch me (yeah, right -- that hurts.) I did not intend to breed them, but they definitely are coupling up and I guess I may have to put a nest or two in soon. That's ok --I have many family members that want some after seeing mine and for sure I will keep one or two for myself, if successful. I have a normal BH/WB male and a silver male/WB. Females are a blue BH/PB and a yellow OH(?)RH(?)/WB (too early to tell). I would love for the silver male and blue female to "hook up" because I think then they could produce a pastel cock. But, it looks like the opposite might be the case, and I guess I should let them choose for themselves. I just love these little beauties and thank YOU for your knowledge, wisdom and concern. I am so glad I found your website !!!! AND PRODUCTS !!!!!!!!! C.
Hello C.C., You have a great theory about allowing them plenty of free flight, but Gouldians may be prone to dust related infections, especially staph and E.coli if they are allowed to pick around on top of cupboards,etc. If this would not be the case in the room that you allow them freedom, it would be great if they can fly free. All the Best, Rob

Linda Hughes from Rhome, Texas asks: Dr Rob, I know there are two theories about using cedar chips in finch and cockatiel nest boxes. I would like to use cedar chips on the floor of my finch and cockatiel natural flights. What is your thought on it. Linda Hughes
Hello Linda, The only problem that I would expect is mould toxins associated with excessive moisture in chips. Also, be very careful about water from bathing and dripping water bottles keeping the chips moist. All the Best, Rob

Helen Robinson from England asks: Dear Dr Rob, I have a pair of canaries that are in a room that is at a constant temperature of 18 degrees. I have placed a bird light in their avairy and a Thermo Perch. The hen has just sat a clutch of 3 eggs for exactly 2 weeks then left them. Is the temperature in the room adequate or is this a factor in her leaving the eggs. She has just made another nest. Just to say also a few days after I got this pair the hen started clicking. Searching the internet I found this website and ordered your S76. Absolutely fabulous. It cleared it up in no time and I thought she was a gonna. Thanks
Helen, I believe that 18 degrees Celsius could be a bit low for canaries. I would prefer 20 toward 25. But I am not certain that this is what caused your hen to abandon the nest. If you could raise the temperature up, let's see what happens with her next clutch. All the Best, Rob

Serge Micheli from Toronto, ON, Canada asks: Hello Rob, I changed the lighting to a bird light on each aviary this past weekend which gives off UVA and UVB rays instead of a regular fluorescent. This morning the birds were fine until these lights came on automatically with the timer and I noticed that they were flighty (very nervous) after this happened but fine when I came in the bird room with the natural light from outside. Once the new lights came on automatically, which is immediate, they became flightly. If I walked near the aviary they became flighty immediately if I moved to fast. Before the lights came on when I first walked in they were much better. I have never seen them this nervous before?
Hello Serge, It's the sudden light, especially the blue light given off by these UVA and UVB tubes which birds see much brighter than we do. You need a dimmer before hand so that the lighting isn't so abrupt. All the Best, Rob

Jeff & Lavonne Bell from Illinois asks: Our birds are kept in a plexiglass aviary. I use corn cob and natural pine bedding which is changed every 10-14 days. Their diet consists of seed, millet, fly larvae, hard boiled eggs, fresh veg's which are offered each day along with a vitamin supplemented water that is changed daily.The vet suggested they may be stressed and we should offer them meat, whatever we are eating for dinner. I have tried that but they really don't seem to care for it. I really don't feel their diet is an issue. One person had told us to remove the wax bills from the aviary, which we did with the exception of one orange cheek. Currently, the pair of Societies that are housed with them have fostered a Gouldian baby and he/she has just left the nest and appears in excellent health. We do use a Spanish Moss in the upper portion of the aviary that is fastened using chicken wire, this is also where the nests are located. Could this be the cause of dust or some other environmental problem? My husband designed and constructed our aviary three years ago and we have not experienced any similar problems until the past six months or so. Any ideas, and thank you for you past response.
Hello Jeff and Lavonne, The spanish moss, the pine shavings or the corn cob could be the source of both the dust and fungal toxins. Perhaps a new purchase of either of these products is the source, whereas it wasn't a problem in the past.

I would remove all three and replace the bedding with newspaper, at least temporarily, completely clean out the aviary for hiding mites, treat the birds with an S76 bath or misting and reassess if the itching and scratching stops.

When you remove the bedding look for excessive dust or fungus growth that may have been started by a dripping water bottle. All the Best, Rob

Diana Moore from Moorpark, Ventura County, California, USA asks: Hi Dr. Rob, My aviary sits atop a low, wide bookcase. You had mentioned dust filtering down from the top of the aviary as a possible cause of my problems. I have bought many of your products and Laraine's too, so I am ready. I did find quite a bit of dust on top of the boards (2) which stabalize the open top of the aviary and on the plastic covering (we used the same type as used over lighting in offices it has little squares which let in light and air, I used the KD on all these surfaces and on a ladder on everything not normally cleaned on a regular basis. I have run a few of your treatments as well and I think the birds are improved but not all better. I am using your S76 and KD in the water, with spray of pyrethin. I ran the seed/turbo/e-powder/f-vite and continue this as well as the herbs in bowls which the birds enjoy. I think I want to run a doxycycline/megamix (already ran just Megamix before the doxcycline came) as two of the Goulds are a little better. Still a little dry around the eye and stuck in the molt, the third is always a little worse. They preen a little too much and rub their eyes on the branches (I cleaned all the items in the aviary with KD as well). Is running this treatment a good idea? Thanks so much, I feel we will get there and my birds will be like Laraine's, Diana
Hello Diana, I definitely think a trial treatment of Doxycycline/Megamix is warranted in this situation. Rob

Diana Moore from Moorpark, Ventura County, California, USA asks: Dr Rob, Thank you for answering my query so quickly. I have central air and heating, my "bird room" has an office area and my aviary is on top of a large bookcase about 3 feet high, it is about 7' wide by 5.5'wide and about 29" deep. I keep news paper on the floor and roll up one layer each day. I have a living air purifier in the room. With the Nuns in the "hospital cage" I have nowhere to keep all the birds outside of this area as I live in a condo. I will freshly clean and sanitize by whole house filter. How else might it be possible to address my possible "spore" problem? Thanks again, Diana
Hello Diana, Check that there is no dust accumulating above bookcase. This may be a source of the problem. Disinfect with KD. Good luck, Rob

Lynn Durnin from Langley, B C asks: Dr. Rob, I would really like to know what type of cage floor bedding is the safest - besides newspaper. I have a beautiful oak cage and I would like to put a natural product of some sort on the cage floor. I have been using a product called woody pet - which basically is little wood logs - the thing that worries me is when it gets wet it seems to break down and I see the birds always pecking at it and I am worried they are eating it? I hear corn cob can get impacted and a friend of mine uses oyster shells - but it stinks. Any suggestions as to what I can buy here locally that you feel is somewhat safe and doesnt have an aweful smell ? Thanks
Hello Lynn, Personally I like to have a clean floor so I can see the droppings. Wood and shavings are extremely susceptible to dangerous moulds especially blue Penicillin and Mucor moulds. Rob

Luis Bellmas from Ft. Lauderdale, FL asks: Hi Dr. Rob. I recently acquired my first few pairs of Gouldians. I live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where our temperature can range between 35-100 degrees Farenhiet with usually high humidity. My original plan was to house them in an outdoor aviary, but now I'm not so sure. We are expecting some cooler weather this weekend and I would like to know what is considered a safe temperature range for these beautiful birds?
Hello Luis, Gouldians enjoy very hot weather in the wild. They are one of the few finches that thrive in very high temperatures up to 35 degrees C (96 degrees F). At these temperatures they need plenty of fresh water. Fluctuating cold temperatures and humidity associated with these colder temperatures is the problem for Gouldians. Temperatures under 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) and humididty levels above 75% are not healthy for Gouldians as they have not developed an immunity to the "wet" diseases associated with these conditions. Good luck with your decision. Rob

Phillip B. Kozlowski Jr. from Aurora, Indiana asks: How long after installing Vinyl Flooring before it will be safe to place my Gouldians back in the room?
Hello Phillip, You need to wait until the fumes from the adhesives and new vinyl have dissipated. This info may be best coming from the manufacturer. All the Best, Rob

NOTE: A request to the manufacturer yielded no help. They insist that after 30 years of manufacturering flooring, they have never had an incident of fumes harming exotic birds until 2 weeks ago. At that time they had a report of a cockatiel that died after moving into a room that had been refloored. Phillip's vet suggested 2 weeks of airing the room should make the fumes harmless.

Faye from Bahamas asks: I want to purchase one gouldian finch. Is it ok to buy one or do i need to get two?
Hello Faye, As with all birds it is best to have more than one as they are flock birds and need social interaction. It doesn't matter what sexes you chose if you do not chose a pair (male and female), but two males are usually preferred. Best of Luck, Rob

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