One of the most worrying aspects breeders have when assesing the health of their birds is that we can only visually see the main signs that our birds are unwell towards the end of their illness therefore it is essential that we should have a regular routine whereby ALL birds are inspected and that any that are showing signs of not being in their normal condition are attended to without any delay.
Some species of birds can be seen to be very tolerant when it comes to any minor ailments or illness and generally make a full recovery within a few days however Gouldian Finches are a somewhat more delicate species when it comes to health matters and despite all the care and attention given ALL breeders will at some time or another experience deaths within their Gouldian Finch collections.
I have been keeping and breeding birds for well over 35 years now and in all those years i still find few species of birds that can match the Gouldian Finch in terms of susceptibility towards illness and ailments.
So what are the "most common" health problems relating to Gouldian Finches and how do we treat them in our birds?.
Firstly let us begin with what many breeders consider to be the "number one enemy".. that is Air Sac Mites.
We have been very fortunate in that all the years we have been keeping Gouldian Finches we have only ever had a few instances of birds suffer from this complaint- however we personally know of several breeders who have not been so lucky as ourselves and they have lost many Gouldian Finches that had suffered from this infection.
The symptoms of Air Sac Mites varies greatly according to the severity of the infection- some birds will only show mild symptoms such as coughing, or open mouth breathing ( often this can be heard with a characteristic clicking sound ).Other birds may show a nasal discharge and may also be very fluffed up having very little energy and often a high loss of appetite.
Whilst there are several treatments and remedies available for combating this menace in Gouldian Finches ( and most if not all perform very well if one adheres strictly to the full manufacturers instructions ) a product that is widely used by many Gouldian Finch breeders as a treatment / preventative is called BLAST - OFF SPOT ON, this product is provided by the BIRD CARE COMPANY ,to treat the infected birds one should apply one or two drops per 30g body weight of bird to the bare skin between the bird's shoulders. it is also reccomended by the manufacturer to repeat this treatment 3 or 4 times per year.
Another common problem which is however not unique to Gouldian Finches is RED MITES,these can play havoc with ones birds especialy during the breeding season.Red Mites can often be very difficult to spot as they tend to be more active during the hours of darkness and and almost invisible to the naked eye.Some signs of infection are : fraying around the edges of the birds feathers ,birds appear to be suffering from irritation and are constantly preening themselves - often the mites cause the birds to suffer with "itchy feet"....the birds will keep preening their toes in an effort to combat the irritation caused by these mites, also many birds will become very listless and lethargic.
There are a huge number of different products available to help combat this menace ranging from powders ,sprays to feed suppliments - we are currently doing various trials with a homeopathic product and so far the results are very good ( we will provide full details at a later date once our trials have been completed ).
Gouldian Finches are particularly prone to suffering from BACTERIA AND FUNGAL INFECTIONS. There are many things that can generate these problems amoungst Gouldian Finches however we firmly believe that most can be atributed to poor hygiene standards - therefore we pay very close attention to ensure that ALL cages / feed and water containers / nest boxes / perches and food supplied to the birds are spotlessly clean and free from any forms of contamination.
Any Soft food and Green food provided to the birds MUST NOT be allowed to go stale even if it means replacing several times a day particulary in warm weather when it tends to "go off" a lot quicker.
From our own experience of keeping Gouldian Finches we have noticed an inrease in problems with Bacteria infections when our birds have access to an outside flight. We have come to the conclusion that this is mainly due to rain water finding it's way into the aviary and settling on the floor areas where the birds can drink it.... therefore we feel it is essential should you wish your Gouldian Finches to have access to an outside flight area make sure that their flight is well protected from any penetration of rain water.
Fungal infections are many and varied but in the main we have found that most are caused by poor hygiene or overcrowding of your birds. There are many commercial products available to help bird keepers maintain a clean and healthy environment for their birds and by spending time attending to hygiene and housing matters there is every reason to expect all the success and enjoyment that this delightful species has to offer, in our opinion there is no bird that can match the beauty of the Gouldian Finch.
Further health articles soon to be added to this web site,
Happy bird keeping and thank you for reading this short article.
regards Barry and Dawn 29th November 2004.