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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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Susan from Western North Carolina asks: I have three Gouldians, all about the same age, all male. The red face isn't puffy but his back feathers seem to be in disarray more often than not. He always smooths out when we approach the cage and does not act sick. Recently he dropped a number of his purple breast feathers, he looks a little spotty but no more feathers have been found in the cage or on the floor. Today I was watching him when he was preening and stretching and I swear he looked as if he was balding on his back when he moved his wing. Am I being paranoid? I want to catch any problem before it gets worse or spreads to the other two. The three of them get along very well so I don't think the others are doing it to him. Any opinion or advice is appreciated!
Hello Susan, Your red face Gouldian may be in the middle of his annual moult. In the last 6 weeks have you noticed any long wing feathers on the floor of the every couple of days? Just to be sure that it isn't quill mites, I would suggest that you check him out carefully using a magnifying glass. If you do not see any quill mites along the spine of his long feathers I would suspect that he is just molting. Be sure that all of the birds have a high quality diet during their molt and administer the S76 for 2 consecutive days every 3 weeks during the moulting period. All the Best, Rob

Jacqueline Forte from Florida asks: One of my 4 Ringnecks has a large bald patch around his left ear. I am assuming this is mites. I have read many of your responses stating to use S76. I am wondering if you ever recommend Diatomaceous Earth as treatment. I use this on my chickens outside and they do very well. I have also used Frontline on them and it works too! 1 drop on a bantam. I of course am terrified to use that on my indoor birds but am convinced that the DE can't do any harm. What are your thoughts and if you think it is a good idea would you recommend dusting them or having them eat it? Thanks in advance for your time.
Hello Jacqueline, Diatomaceous earth works well in chooks and is used as a bath or deep litter. It works really well and I recommend its use. I would use it as a dust, not to be eaten. All the Best, Rob

Ivy from England asks: Hello Doctor Rob! I am a birdkeeper living in Suffolk, England. I have two budgies, seven red factor canaries and two Gouldian Finches, all kept indoors in separate cages. We've had the Gouldians since last year and they are about three years old. I am becoming worried about them as the female has been losing feathers at the back of her head, along the edge of her mask (both birds are normal red headed Gouldians). I thought this is because the male has been trying to mate with her for the last few months and he pecks her head during his attempts. Now the male has lost a lot of red feathers around his face and around the edge of the mask- I can see his ears. Both birds even have small bald patches. Is this a normal moult for the UK? I have been giving all of the birds vitamins and exercise. I would appreciate any advice.
Hello Ivy, The feather drop out could be from a retarded moult or mites. My full Health Programme plus S-76 in the drinking water AND a S-76 bath will help all birds. All the Best, Rob

Courtney from Australia asks: I wrote to you last year about my female Gouldian going bald on the top of her head. Over the summer she grew her feathers back and looked really good. However she is beginning to show signs of loosing them again. She has begun to loose feathers around her beak and eyes. Is there a way of preventing this from happening again? We keep the birds inside at night and when it is cold, but have them outside as much as we can. Does ducting heating affect the birds in any way? They get a balanced diet and food/water is changed daily. Thank-you for your time.
Hello Courtney, The balding you are seeing is a result of your hen coming back into breeding condition. Some hens go through this every season, some outgrow it as they mature. It is hormonally related and about the only thing that could help is improving the diet that you have them on. All the Best, Rob

Reva Wamsley from Yuma, AZ asks: We have a pair of Gouldian finches that are going through their first molt. They are both puffed up but the male is really puffed up. He acts fine, he's eating and active. Is this a normal part of molting? We just started giving them Feather Up.
Hello Reva, Whenever birds puff up during their molt, that is a sign that all isn't going well. Molting is very stressful on them and it requires a lot of energy and perfect nutrition. The Feather-Up is a start in the right direction as long as they are eating something moist that you can sprinkle it onto. Another thing that you can offer them is some NV Powder for about a week. This is an electrolyte, glucose and vitamin supplement that is added to their drinking water that will give them a quick boost of energy to help them through this molt. All birds look very ratty when they are molting, but only the strongest come through it as if nothing were happening. All the Best, Rob

Leo from California asks: Hello Dr. Rob, I recently acquired some finches. I observe that there seems to be some problems with them. My birds are shedding a lot of feathers lately and it isn't just one that is shedding, its like most of them. They are currently breeding, so I doubt this is a great time for molting. What may be the problem? Please teach me what to do. Thank you! Leo
Hello Leo, Your finches are probably experiencing an environmental change molt. This can happen when you newly acquire them because their temps and humidity can sometimes be different than where they came from. I would take all the nesting material away until this molt is finished. It is very stressful and energy consuming to molt and try to raise chicks at the same time. The parents will run out of energy and then possibly abandon the chicks. You might also assess whether or not they have any external mites which could be causing the feather loss. If so, allow them to bathe in an S76 bath to remove the mites and treat the cages with a pyrethrum spray. All the Best, Rob

Tom from Jerusalem asks: I have a canary that has been molting for about five months nonstop. It does sing, but weakly. I do not have it in a draft, and I feed it plenty of vitamins and make sure that it is getting all its needs, but I can't figure out why it is still molting. I have several other birds in the same place and they get the same treatment, yet they seem fine. Plus, when does the canary breeding season begin?
Hello Tom, This is called delayed moult and often the result of Megabacteria or some other bowel problem that prevents absorption of nutrients to support a quick moult. Emotional problems (eg overcrowding, incompatibility, dominant bird or a mated pair in same space as this bird chasing him/her away from etc) may also cause a delayed moult. Place on KD for a few days then Moulting Programme. CANARIES ARE SPRING BREEDERS. All the Best, Rob

Stan Weiner from Westlake Village, CA asks: I have a new Cordon Bleu male that is about 9 months old. I have had the female for almost a year. Her last mate died recently, they never "mated". It appears that she is pecking, not aggressively, at the back of his head. He has a bald spot now. This just started and we've had him for about 2 weeks. Three questions: Will the feathers grow back and what to do about the pecking? Finally, why is it happening?
Hello Stan, The hen is agitated. It may be due to an illness or nutritional imbalance or purely incompatibility. Be careful that she is not chasing him away from food. Rob

Mona Lilly from Rockton, IL asks: My baby Gouldians are now 8 months old. One of them is still green and the other one has almost changed completely except the black head is spotted. Three weeks ago I started them on vitamins program of yours. Will this help them change colors. They both sing and seem very healthy. We live in the midwest and I keep the temperature at 74 degrees and the humidity of 40%. Is there anything else I can do? I say this as a joke, they were raised by Zebras and they have taken on their personality. It seems like they want to stay green.
Hello Mona, Your juvenile Gouldians may have imprinted on their Zebras parents and may follow their moult pattern. I suggest placing them onto my Health Programme as their metabolism may become confused and render them susceptible to illness during an abnormally placed moult. It would be interesting to see how they go in the future. Rob

Sybil Wyatt from Baltimore asks: Our male Eclectus is plucking his feathers. The owner of the store where we bought him three years ago recommended acquiring a small bird--perhaps a finch--to keep in a separate cage in our parrot's room. She thinks the diversion might improve our parrot's mental health and reduce his plucking. What do you think?
Hello Sybil, The plucking issue that you are dealing with is far too complicated than can be resolved in the forum. A Questionnaire will be sent to you, so that we can gather additional information to help you deal with your Eclectus' plucking issue. All the Best, Rob