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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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Adria Coetzee from South Africa asks: Dear Dr. Rob. About 2 weeks ago my Gouldian Finch started having this drunken look and a few days later she started having these attacks (Twirling around, falling on her back and crazy flapping of wings), which I found on the internet was a syndrome called twirling. I tried using Nystatin, without any results. I'm now using SMZ liquid (Trimethoprim Sulfa). My bird is still able to perch and eat, but with difficulty. I've also noticed that she plucks her feathers, and seems to be itching, especially around the head area. Are these 2 different symptoms? And if you could give me any advice, I would really appreciate it. Thank you. I don't want to give up on this bird.
Hello Adria, Itchiness and head twirling may indicate a fungal encephalitis. I would treat and manage as fungal problem. Refer to Moulding Disease in Gouldian Health Book. The damage may however be permanent, a bit like a stroke syndrome. Treat with my full Health Programme (Turbobooster, ePowder and Fvite on food) and KD in water for 5 days, and then reassess. All the Best, Rob

Cindy C. from Oklahoma City asks: Hi Dr. Rob. I have number of birds I keep as pets but this is my first pair of Gouldian finches. So this makes me very new at this. I have had them for only two weeks. When I purchased them I felt they were both in good health. Then I noticed about a week ago that one of them was sleeping more than the other, fluffed up, but still eating well. It is a female and I checked to see if I thought she was egg bound, but I don’t believe she is. I see her eating still, and drinking, but she is awfully thin. She looks bigger than the other finch because she is so fluffed up but I can feel a pronounced keel bone while the healthy finch feels plump. I read about "going light" and I thought this is a possibility, as she feels quit thin for as much as I see her eat. Is going light curable? What do you recommend that I give her? Thank you for any and all help.
Hello Cindy, This is a stress induced (moving from one home to the next) disease. It is most likely a disease that she has been carrying for a while and not something she picked up in your home. The possibilities are Ornithosis first of all. It may also be Thrush or bacterial in nature. My first approach would be the Doxycycline/Megamix treatment for 2 days and look for a positive response (see Gouldian Health Book for details) to help identify Ornithosis as the cause. Rob

Hello Joe, A nasal discharge could indicate a sinus infection. It is necessary to get a choanal (throat) culture done. Causes may be Chlamydia, Mycoplasma, a Vitamin A deficiency, Thrush , mould or other bacteria. It is best to identify such a problem early. I may also be due to a draft. Rob

Mike Falusi from Canada asks: Dr Rob There was some discussion on another forum that concluded with some questions which no-one seemed qualified to answer. Someone suggested that the addition of a small amount of Listerine to our finch’s bird bath would kill mites and lice on the birds. They also suggested that misting birds with the same concoction would be beneficial. In my case, due to my working hours, there are often three consecutive days where I leave the house before the birds are up and return home after they've taken to the nest at night. Therefore, I usually put fresh water in the bath every night so its fresh for them in the morning. I have the bath positioned such that they do not defecate into the bath and have never seen any bird droppings in the bath. I was considering adding the Listerine as a preventative measure against lice and mice as well I was thinking that it would likely keep bacteria under control in the bath which the birds tend to use as their primary drinking supply. My question, What do you think? Do you think that consumption of dilute amounts of Listerine, which contains alcohol, would be harmful to the birds? Thanks Mike
Hello Mike, Listerine is a mouth wash that is quite strong. The active ingredient is not eucalyptus, but an alcohol based disinfectant. It does certainly kill oral germs in humans. I am not qualified to pass a scientific opinion, but I have used it myself and find it quite toxic tasting and smelling. If you are looking for the Eucalyptic properties rather than disinfectant qualities why not just place wet eucalyptus branches in the cage, as a bath. We do this in Australia where there are Eucalyptus trees everywhere. If you do not have the availability of eucalyptus branches then KD Water Cleanser is preferred as we know it is safe and effective in killing external parasites on birds. All the Best, Rob

Manny Beltran from Ventura, CA asks: My female Lady Gould finch, had an eye closed shut, with secretion, even under the beak. I removed the yellow stuff and cleaned with S76. Do you have any recommendations, in how to cure it. What kind of disease could it be? Please Help. Sincerely Manny B.
Hello Manny, This may be a burst sinus abscess or an injury to the eye itself (eg corneal ulcer). Eye drops with Gentamycin may be the best choice treatment. All the Best, Rob

Andrea Verdick from Oak Park, CA asks: Hi Dr. Rob, I've had a pair of Gouldians for 6 months who started getting sick about 4 months ago. Symptoms are: clicking, sneezing, extending their neck as if to clear their throat, and fluffing up. They have been treated as follows: Ivermectin shot (the male only, because at the time he was the only one sick), and Vetesulid in their drinking water. After a few weeks, they were both put on Baytril in the drinking water. Four weeks ago, I started Laraine's program of treatment, i.e., Guardian Angel for 4 days; S76 for 2 days, Amtyl for 7 days, and repeating the S76 for 2 days for 2 consecutive weeks. It has been a week since the last S76 and they are still exhibiting the same symptoms. Any suggestions? Also, they were losing a lot of their feathers every few weeks. It would seem like they were eating something when they would pick at their feathers; is that possible, or is that normal preening? I don't know what typical preening is, but it seemed like they were doing it a lot. I have had a red heat lamp on them for the past few months and wondered if they suffer from dry skin? They are on a store bought seed mixture for finches that contains vitamins. They don't eat fresh veggies or egg when I put it in their cage. This is a lot of info, I appreciate your feedback. Thank you.
Hello Andrea, Neck stretching = a sore throat. Possible causes are a thrush infection, a strep infection, or mites with a secondary infection. It is most likely related to the food they are eating as no response from your treatments would indicate a thrush or fungal toxin or insecticide on feed. In other words they are constantly being re-exposed to these same toxins by eating the seed. Fungal problems will also cause excessive picking, so this would be the first thing to investigate. Also, a Vitamin A deficiency may look like this. All the Best, Rob

Frank Gallucci from 3 Homestead St. Ottawa, ON, K2K7N9 asks: Good day Dr Rob, First of all I would like to congrat you on your new book. I ordered it through Laraine and I received in Ottawa, Canada in exactly 2 wks. My question is what can I tell my brother-in-law about the problem he has with his Gouldians. Some of his birds are growing blister like patches on the pad of their feet. He sanded all perches and disinfected them also. The both of us don't know where to go from here. It is affecting their way of life. And ours obviously. Any Idea's will be greatly appreciated
Hello Frank, Most common cause of this problem which is called Pododermtatitis or bumble foot, is perches that are too hard (use soft wood perches) or the wrong size or shape. Any dirt on feet may cause birds to pick at their feet excessively and they become infected with Staph. Nutritional deficiencies also harm the skin integrity making infection and damage more likly. Treatment for this bird(s) 1. Wrap perches in "vetwrap" a rubberised bandage (see a vet) to soften perches. 2. BATH in KD DAILY IF POSSIBLE. THE BIRD WILL STAND IN THE BATH AND HAVE A KD FOOT SOAK, automatically 3. Put the birds onto TurboBooster, E-Powder and F-Vite on their seed daily 4. Moxi-t or(Amtyl)in drinking water for 4 days 5. Reassess in 3 weeks. Foot injuries are very depressing for birds. All the Best, Rob

James Rees from Sydney, Australia asks: Dr Rob, I have been breeding gouldians in an aviary in my backyard for a couple of years, but I never have a great deal of success. I always lose a few babies and those that fledge cannot fly for several days and are not fully developed when they leave the nest. I feed them seeding grasses every day to try to provide them with enough protein to feed growing babies, I also provide cuttle bone, grit, eggshell, charcoal, seed mix, and a bit of egg and biscuit mix but they wont take much of this. I dunno what I’m doing wrong, every now and then I will get one adult bird fluff up, get a dirty vent, and spend all the time sleeping until they die or eventually, but rarely, get better. They are housed in an aviary with a dirt floor and lots of shrubs and native grasses. The aviary is about 1 third covered at the south east side as this is where the prevalent cold winds blow from in Sydney Australia. Another reoccurring problem I encounter is that a certain percentage of the young I breed develop deformed beaks in the nest. The lower mandible is longer than the upper mandible in these birds? Are you able to explain to me how this problem occurs? The problem seems worse when less protein is offered during the breeding season. My latest problem is that one of my cock gouldians has just fallen ill in the manner mentioned above. I am worried that this may be an illness I could have introduced with four new gouldians I purchased from a breeder and introduced to the aviary last week. The real problem is that this cock currently has a clutch of eggs in a nestbox in the aviary and I am worried that he will be unable to care for the eggs and will pass on his illness to the youngsters when they hatch. Any ideas on what I should do? Another thing you should know is that there are also king quail and diamond doves in the aviary however there are only a small number and they seem compatible with the Goulds. I also have to admit that I have been neglectful in that I have not been worming my birds, but I do not know if I should worm them now that the breeding season has begun? As you can see my situation is a bit of a mess and any recommendations to help me get my gouldians healthy would be really appreciated. Thanks mate, James Rees
Hello James, The quail and doves and dirt floor may be an issue. I would recommend you have dropping analysis performed to identify your problems. To assist with this, call the office and visit me in helping you enjoy your Gouldians again. Rob

Diana Moore from Moorepark, Ventura County, California USA asks: I have a long standing problem which has taken 5 birds in a large indoor aviary. I got one bird and foolishly believed it was healthy and put it in the flock. Now I only use quarantine. Anyway, I now have your book. I have treated for airsac mites and my vet had me use Nystatin and Baytril (sorry for spelling) My birds still (some more than others) yawn, two have dry areas around eyes, they are somewhat puffy and a new bird starts the yawn and possible throat irritation within a few hours. I think it is a virus or coccidiosis? I just finished with S76. They itch also. What now? I will buy whatever might help. THANK YOU! I so what them healthy. I Have 3 Goulds left, two pair cordon bleu (blue head), one large green singer (canary size)in separate cage and two black hooded nuns. The nuns were a gift, I put them in the hospital cage, 3 weeks and fine, moved them into the same room as the aviary (8x10') and they started to yawn already. Thanks for your answer, sorry this is so long. Diana
Hello Diane, I believe that the problem may be fungal spores in your bird room or some other air-bourne irritant. TAKE ALL BIRDS AND REMOVE FROM SUSPECT AREA. It may be food or water contamination in that area but it definitely sounds like an inhalant because eyes are involved. Check the filter on a/c heat system. It could be a staph contaminant from this system. Monitor the birds in isolation. If they recover, place them back into the room to see effect. All the Best, Rob

Scott Settle-Chesser from Maui, Hawaii asks: Aloha Dr. Rob, I have a non moulted juvenile mutation Gould (white body/ yellow/purple chest) that is exhibiting an odd behaviour. He sits on his perch and stares at the sky. When he flies it is rapid and uncoordinated. Difficulty landing, some what like an albatross! He is in a flight aviary with brothers and sisters who are fine. Eats fresh greens, millet, fortified egg food and seed daily. Water is fortified with Calcium periodically, Energize, Saniclens and KD water cleanser (all on a schedule, not all at once). Also in the cage are a few Zebras and breeding a Spice Finch pair. There is fresh air, shade and sun on the cage. Any help would be great. Scott
Hello Scott, I'm afraid that it is difficult for me to identify this problem. Possibilities would be Paramyxovirus, stress, or a mutation weakness. I am sorry that I can't be of more help with this problem. Rob