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Dr. Rob is a world renowned avian veterinarian in Sydney, Australia. He was the veterinary consultant for the Northern Territory Nature and Conservation Commission for a scientific study of the disease status in the wild population of the endangered Gouldian Finches as it related to a "Recovery Plan".



Tailai O’Brien is a Parrot Behavior Consultant who has worked along side Dr. Marshall and has developed special regimes for successful bird training and behavioral development. Fill out her Questionnaire so that she may help you with your parrot’s bad behavior.

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Dianne Pearson from Amarillo, Texas asks: Dear Dr. Rob: I must start out by telling you that I purchased one of your books, and have learned a tremendous amount from it. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I will give you several details below in hopes that it will help you with your analysis: Raising Gouldians is a new venture for me, so some of my questions may be VERY basic. I recently encountered an "egg hatching" problem with my Gouldians I'd researched several different places and found so much information that I became very confused! You see I have a pair of Gouldians that recently laid their first clutch of eggs. The hen laid her first egg on May 8th. In the end, she laid a total of six eggs. Since this was their first clutch, I took the first three eggs (on May 11th) and put them under Bengalese finches (thinking they could help out the Gouldians since it was their first clutch). I left the last three real eggs with the Gouldians to see if they would raise their own babies. Much to my surprise, the Gouldian hen took right to being a mother. She sat very steadily on her eggs. On May16th (five days into the incubation process) I checked the eggs I'd put under the Bengalese for fertility. They were pink and had lots of tiny blood vessels running all over them. However, two days later I checked them again and found that the red vessels were concentrated ONLY in the middle of the egg, and that at each end of the egg there were dark rings/circles that had formed. From what I understand that means the embryo has died. I then checked the eggs that I'd left with the Gouldians and found they looked strange too, but in a different way. These eggs looked somewhat yellowish and clear, but they each had ONE red streak running only on ONE SIDE of the egg. Any suggestions? Are both of these "egg descriptions" the same problem? Since this is all new to me, I left the eggs in the nests just in case. Humidity is something that Laraine asked about. I don't have a humidifier, and I do live in a rather dry part of Texas. However, I'd read in several places that misting the birds down, or leaving out a dish of water for them to bathe in would be sufficient "humidity" for eggs. I mist the birds down liberally twice a day. You see I work full time and fear that while I'm gone, the birds may soil their bath water and then drink it--thus get a bacterial infection of some kind. Is a humidifier something you still feel I should have or do you think misting the birds is sufficient? In regards to medications--the Bengalese that I used to foster the eggs had been given Ronivet and Amtyl several months ago. I've never treated them with antibiotics that could treat a possible Campylobacter infection. The lady I bought the Bengalese from used them to foster some of her own Gouldians, and she didn't seem to have any problems with Gouldian egg/juvenile deaths. Their droppings look normal in color and consistency. Room temperature is kept at a constant 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Their diet consists of seed, millet, egg food, vitamins, minerals, Calciboost, liquid kelp (given every other day), charcoal, sterilized egg shell, and greens. Soya Musca powder (ground up fly larva) is added to the hard boiled eggs, as is Feast soft food, vitamins and minerals. I use the Calciboost every other day during the breeding season. Otherwise they get it twice a week. There are Full Spectrum lights above each cage to supplement sunlight and they are getting 13 hours of light a day right now. Hopefully I've given you all the information you need to assess the problem I am encountering. **It is important that you know that in March, I successfully raised a clutch of three Bengalese. My room temperature is the same now as it was then, and I misted those birds down as well. That's one reason I'm so stumped. If those eggs hatched and were raised to adulthood, why am I having problems with my Gouldian eggs? Many thanks in advance for all your help!! Regards, Dianne Pearson
Dear Dianne, This is known as early embryonic death. Common causes are dry weather or brooding failure. Other causes are possible infections like Strep, E coli and Chlamydia (Ornithosis). I suggest that you break open an egg (egg post mortem) and see if there is a smell. If so, then it is a bacterial infection like Strep or E coli. If no smell is present, then it could be Chlamydia or a brooding problem. Gouldians are sensitive birds and may be disturbed by your spraying process? While Bengalese finches are not as sensitive as Gouldians, checking on the eggs often could disrupt their incubation process and thus kill the developing embryos. If there was full fertility then it is not likely to be Ornithosis, but rather brooding problems by both Gouldians and foster Bengalese. It may have been by moving the eggs from Gouldians to Bengalese OR disturbance of Bengalese. I would say, in order to remove one of the variables, the next time the Gouldians lay a clutch of eggs, leave eggs under the Gouldians for 2 weeks and see if embryos are still alive. If only blood vessels are present after 2 weeks then the embryos are still dying at 5 days and it could be any of the other factors I mentioned. Rob

Lynn Durnin from Langley, BC asks: Could you please tell me what the main reasons are for causing infertility? I feel the diet I feed my Gouldians is excellent - the only thing I have not given them is iodine. I give them vitamins in the water and on the soaked seed and Calciboost is also given regularly along with many other foods. I also purchased Proboost Supermax which is given daily and still I have not seen a difference so far.
Hello Lynn, The most important part of fertility is waiting to breed them after they have come into breeding condition. See pages 34-39 of the Gouldian Health book. Birds that are well fed and in "breeding condition" will not have an energy deficit causing them to incubate poorly. If the birds are fed well and have a balanced nutrition then you must consider Ornithosis as the cause of infertility. The effect of a Doxycycline/Megamix trial as described in the book will tell if Ornithosis is the cause of your bird's infertility. All the Best, Rob

Lynn Durnin from Langley, BC asks: One of my hens seems to be always laying undersized eggs - almost the size of a cordon blue egg. What would cause this?
Hello Lynn, Undersize eggs could indicate that your hen has a malformed uterus or shell gland problem if all the eggs produced are malformed and small. Intermittent abnormal sized eggs may be a nutritional problem or an infected uterus. Very few small eggs will be fertile or hatch. It is better to breed away from a hen who lays small eggs. All the Best, Rob

This is post egg-laying paralysis. She needs more calcium and protein in the diet, OR she paired up not fully into breeding condition. She will recover as long as you keep her warm and add calcium to the water, plus, I suggest TurboBooster etc, to the feed. All the Best, Rob

Cathy Yocius from New Jersey asks: Dr. Rob, I have a 9 day old chick in a clutch of 4 that seems to have an enlarged crop. It looks like it's full of air, but I do see seed in there so I know he's being fed. He looks fine except for that. I just never saw that before and hope you can tell me what it is. Is there something I can do for this? If there's any more info you need, let me know. Cathy
Hello Cathy, Air in the crop is an indication that the birds are not feeding properly or are not getting enough energy from their food. KD Powder will help this problem and also daily administration of TurboBooster, E-Powder and F-Vite to the feed. All the Best, Rob

Ismael from Springfield, IL asks: Dr, Thx very much for answer my question, but my bird its back to normal, I do believe one of the reasons the bird was in trouble is because she was trying to nest again, I remove the box and the male now, coz the last for day she has laid 4 eggs,. I was worry about that, but she didn’t have any problems before passing the eggs or now,. But I do believe that’s a lot stress for her,. This morning she was out with the other birds eating flying, bathing,. Not trouble so far, I watch my like my own family ,. I do believe the weather has not help very much lately, coz is not warm or humided enough,. Plus I have some of the offspring from this female two years old, some became parents for the first time, no problem so far, I really hope stay that way,. Thx for your time, thx for answer my question,.
This appears then to be a stress related problem. It is wonderful that you are so close to your birds. We must try to interpret body language and now you know the body language of this bird. You have done well to stop breeding. All the best, Rob

Matt from Lafayette, IN asks: I just purchased a mating pair of Gouldians. They are both approximately a year old. From what I understand, their breeding season should end here shortly with the molt, but their previous owner says they have had 3 or 4 clutches so far (none successful). They are very willing breeders, as without a nest box they use any container they can find (ie food bowl). Will she continue to lay eggs constantly or do I need to separate them. The other problem is that she is a horrible mother and keeps kicking the chicks out. I'm going to attempt to remedy this with a less stressful environment and the addition of egg food. I would like to see her raise a successful clutch.
Hello Matt, This unsuccessful breeding problem could indicate a protein deficiency. The birds should begin an ongoing health programme using Turbobooster, e-Powder and F-vite. All the best, Rob

Cathy Yocius from New Jersey asks: Dr. Rob, This is just an update to the problem I had with the 9-day old chick that seemed to have an air bubble on his crop. It was very big and i was very concerned. Your suggestion had been e-Powder, F-vite and Turbobooster. I had just rec'd the e-Powder and F-vite and put it on the food that the parents were feeding the chicks. In only two days of adding these supplements, the "bubble" was completely gone and never reappeared. I have continued with the e-Powder and F-vite, along w/Dufoplus and Ioford and I am happy to report that all 4 of the chicks have fledged successfully and all are doing beautifully. Thank you for all you help.
Hello Cathy, This is great feed-back. Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone. All the Best, Rob

Laura Watkins from Southern California asks: Dr. Rob, I have two questions for you. I have several breeding pair of Yellow Gould mutations set up in my birdroom in the house. They are on a diet of Gouldian seed mix, cuttlebone, crushed oystershell/charcoal/salt/crushed eggshell mix, Herb Salad, spray millet, sprouted seed and hardboiled egg sprinkled daily with either Feather-Up, Daily Essentials 3, Spirulina or ProBoost SuperMax. They also get occasional greens or fruit. Drinking water contains KD one day per week, CalciBoost 3x week, and apple cider vinegar and iodine 3x week. Now the question: Pair #1 successfully raised 2 babies in May. Since then, they hatched a clutch which they tossed on day 1 - this may have been my fault, I did not provide sprouts & egg that morning. After that, they hatched a clutch of 4, raised them until day 9 and then tossed them. I haven't changed anything about their situation or diet. Any idea what would cause them to toss the babies so far along in development? The second question is regarding pair #3. They successfully raised a clutch of 4, recycled and are now raising another clutch of 4. My concern is for the hen - she has dropped alot of weight. The male is fine, and all her babies are fine, so this doesn't appear to be contagious. They were treated with Worm-out Gel in the Spring, Doxycycline in April, Ronivet in June and again just two weeks ago (as were pair #1). I plan to take away their box after this batch fledges, and will re-treat with Ronivet at 4x strength. Is there another possible pathogen at work here? Is Megabacteria a possibility (I'm in Southern California, USA), and what would be the treatment of choice? (I'd like to have it ordered and on hand before I need it). Final question - regarding the KD, which I administer 1x week, should that be at the 1gm/liter strength or the 1gm/4 liter strength?
Hello Laura, What you are describing from both pairs seems to indicate the parents are tiring after the first clutch. I would suggest maybe a fluctuating temperature problem, low energy or low mineral salts in food. My suggestion is Turbobooster coated seed, sprinkled with E-Powder and F-Vite. Calciboost is great for egg binding in birds but does not provide all minerals necessary for feeding young. It may simply be a mineral salt problem as adults are becoming depleted on the second round. I do not believe it is a disease problem. All the Best, Rob

Jan Armstrong from South Korea asks: I have been breeding Goulds for 6 years. First time a female has plucked all her stomach feathers - she has 4 eggs. Also, she tossed two 4 day old babies. Why is this all happening and what can I do about her feathers and saving the other 2 eggs? Thank you
Hello Jan, I suspect that this is a protein/energy imbalance associated with rearing her young. Look for the cause and give Turbobooster, E-Powder and F-Vite on food. Rob