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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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Karen Golden from South Burlington, Vermont asks: Dr. Rob: Trying to edit this question unsuccessfully. Somewhere in your material or book, I think I read that when the gouldians rub their beaks on the perches, this indicates airsac mites. Is this always the case? My pair of gouldians came from a good breeder and were treated with Scatt as a preventive measure. Yet, they are rubbing their beaks against the perches in a very brisk back and forth quick motion so I am concerned we have airsac mites. What do you think or do they do this for other reasons? Thank you, Karen
Hello Karen, Rubbing beaks is normal activity in Gouldian but excessive or rapid is a sign of sinus irritation that may be due to airsac mites, Streptococcus or fungal infections. Rob

Tom from Jerusalem asks: I was wondering.......with this fuss about bird flu all over the world, are canaries and gouldian finches susceptible to the virus? If they are, what can I do to prevent it? what time after hatching are male canaries supposed to start singing? And do all males sing the same or are there those that sing better than others? Third, if there are those that sing better than others, what types sing the best...thanks a lot.
Hello Tom, Information released by the National Avian Welfare Alliance on Avian Flu and Captive Birds states that exotic birds are not a significant public health risk for Avian Influenza. However since this virus can mutate, this may be updated at a later date. Some male canaries will attempt to begin singing at about 6 weeks of age. Others take longer periods of time. There are many varieties of canaries available in the pet bird market. I suggest that personal preference would dictate the one you may choose to have in your home. All the Best, Rob

Sandra DeSante from Philadelphia, PA US asks: Hello Dr Rob. My female Gouldian is ill. About 10 days ago I suddenly found her on the bottom of the cage where she appeared to be gasping and in great distress. ? why. She had just laid an egg the day before. Moreover she had laid 3 eggs several weeks back which she did not incubate. I was afraid she was egg bound and rushed her to the vet. He was unable to palpate a retained egg in the cloaca but took an x-ray of her abdomen. I will attempt to describe what it showed: the picture was remarkably bland. By that I mean, there were no eggs forming nor were there visible loops of bowel or abdominal air sacs. The only thing that showed up were her bones. I thought that was odd. Shouldn't there always be loops of bowel visible? The vet said she may have peritonitis from a ruptured egg yolk and gave her an injection of antibiotic. I was given Baytril to administer by mouth 2x day for a week. He also gave me a nutritional supplement to mix with water and give her by dropper several times a day. She's much better than she was when I first found her. I thought she might perk up if she were returned to the aviary, but her mate chased her all around (which he NEVER did before). When I looked at her next to him I realized how thin and listless she'd become. I removed her from the aviary and returned her to the hospital cage. Nonetheless, she doesn't seem to be eating as lustily as she should, and she still looks peaky. Any ideas what could be wrong and how I can help her? As far as their diet is concerned I feed my mixed finch flock finch formula seed, millet sprays, soaked seeds, fresh greens, egg food, and meal worms. I supplement them wih Calciboost regularly and add Prime to the eggfood. Is this diet okay? They live in my warm greenhouse which is kept around 80 Degrees F. There was a certain amount of mildew in there (I just cleaned it thoroughly), a problem which seems difficult to completely eradicate in that warm, moist environment. Could that be contributing to my sick bird's problem? All the other birds are robust. Thank you for taking the time to answer there questions.
Hello Sandra, The mould in the greenhouse is a problem when laying eggs as it prevents the shell gland from working properly and may predispose to egg laying problems. I WOULD TREAT FOR A MOLD INFECTION AND THEN SUPPORT HER WITH MY HEALTH PROGRAMME. She must not breed for at least 3 months. Best of Luck, Rob

Leo from California asks: Hello, my gouldian finch kept on rubbing her eyes. I apply some eye drops (for humans) to it. The Gouldian finch seems to feel better. Is there any medicine I can apply to the bird? What can I do to heal the bird?
Hello Leo, An assessment must be made by a vet as to what the problem may be that is causing your bird to constantly rub her eyes. A topical ointment for that particular bacteria or fungal problem will be necessary to provide permanent relief. All the Best, Rob

Tom from Jerusalem asks: Hey. I'm about to buy a new canary but had some worries. It looked like a Norwich canary but its stance was a bit shaky. My friend suggested it was sick but then it started to sing, and sing a lot. We asked the storekeeper and he said it was his best singer, however the idea of it being sick stuck in my mind, so could it be that a sick canary can sing?? And what are the signs of sickness? I was also wondering at which age do female canaries become ready for breeding? And how do we know?
Hello Tom, It is not sick if it sings. Shakiness however may be a nutritional imbalance. I recommend you place it on a nutrition programme. Hens should be able to breed at 1 year of age. Breeding condition is not just "automatically achieved". Canaries need to be brought into condition through lighting and diet. My "Canary Health" book explains this procedure. All the Best, Rob

Susie from San Diego, CA asks: My two finches are currently being treated with Flagyl as prescribed by our vet. (today is day 4 - already much improved condition of these little guys) during the course of their illness, they lost some weight and feathers. What can I do to help along their recovery? Is there anything I should keep them away from (things that may conflict with the effectiveness of Flaygl, when can they breed, etc) and when can I look forward to my finches being once again in perfect health and condition? I have been keeping their cage between 75-85 degrees and feeding them Avilac stress formula, soaked white millet, freshly prepared eggfood with wheat germ oil, Petamine, Lafeber pellets mixed into their seed mix, fresh and washed wheatgrass, spinach, etc. they don't seem to have much appetite still, I am concerned about building them up again. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks! p.s. unrelated: is it safe to wash their perches, food dishes, baths, etc. in the dishwasher with detergent? on my own dishes, I use ecover detergent (chlorine and phosphate free, but there may be perfumes)
Hello Susie, I would suggest that you coat my TurboBooster, F-Vite and ePowder onto their seeds during the treatment with Flagyl. Once treatment is complete, I would suggest that they be placed onto the complete Health Programme. You must identify the cause of the Thrush infection for which you are using the Flagyl. The soaked pellets or soaked white millet may be the culprit if absolute care is not taken during the soaking process. All the Best, Rob

Chase Todd from Tampa asks: My YH LB YB has a small red lump at the base of her beak...just at her throat. Sometimes it looks like it has dried blood on it and sometimes it is just pink. It is a bout the size of a pin head. What could this be and what should I do about it?
Hello Chase, The red lump could be caused by a number of things. It could be an insect bite or follicle infection. But it could also be a tumor or pox virus which would be more serious. If you could send a photo to Laraine at I will have a look at it. All the Best, Rob

Jeanne Briseno from New Mexico asks: I have a single canary (approximately 32 grams in weight) with scaly leg mite (Knemidokoptes pilae) and suspected air sac mites. I would like to treat him with S76 in his drinking water, because handling him stresses both me and the bird. Your book, Canary Health, does not give instructions for treating a single bird in this fashion. May I do so, and at what precise dosage? He has two drinking tubes, each holding 2 ounces of water. My dropper has marked dosages from 0.05 to 0.5 ml. I would appreciate your recommendation very much!
Hello Jeanne, Your canary can be treated for both the air-sac mite and scaley face and leg mite by adding S76 to the drinking water. I would add 1/8 teaspoon of S76 to 250ml of water and divide this between both water tubes. You will need to mix this fresh each day that you administer it to your canary. The schedule would be for 2 consecutive days, repeated 3 weeks in a row for air-sac mites. If you believe that he also has scaley face and leg mites, then you would continue to treat with S76 in the drinking water for just 1 day per week for the next 3 weeks. (6 weeks total for the scaley face and leg mites) All the Best, Rob

Tom from Jerusalem asks: Just a few questions about canaries. I have a canary that has this pimple that oozes a white substance coming out of his underside. Can you tell me what it is and what i can do about it? Second.... the other day I held this other canary for a routine inspection, and suddenly it started to make these strange noises, so i put it back and when I did, it completely lost its balances as though in shock. What could I have done wrong? Finally, what should I feed a pair of canaries in breeding? Thank You
Hello Tom, The pimple sounds like an abscess. It would need to be seen by a vet as they tend not to heal without lancing. You may have been holding your canary too tightly, but some canaries will do this anyway. My Canary Health book has a full and detailed explanation on feeding requirements for canaries. There is too much information to provide it in this type of forum. Best of Luck, Rob

Tracy Schmitz from Wisconsin asks: Dear Dr Rob, I have three gouldian finches. 2 males and 1 female. One male is breathing heavy with his beak open. He also sounds like he is sneezing. His head looks like it has not been groomed by him for some time. By this I mean the feathers have the crust on them that comes out when they are grown. I live in a small town and do not have a local vet who will look at my birds. The male in the cage is the only one with this problem. I have had him for approximately 6 months along with his sister and new male I recently purchased. Please help! I love these birds.
Hello Tracy, The crusty material on your birds head could be dried mucus expelled when your bird sneezed. This is usually cause by a Trichomonas infection. This infection would also cause breathing problems. I would treat with Ronex and then assess his condition. All the Best, Rob