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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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Angel from Dallas, TX asks: Dear Dr Rob, I currently have eight beautiful QUALITY LADYGZ of different mutations that I am preparing for the 2006 breeding season. I have had amazing results using your quarantine products and follow Laraine's article AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION RATHER THAN CURE (religiously) Last week I had a 3 mo old fledgling die for unknown reasons. The fledgling (PB=PrettyBoy) was one of my pride and joys this season. My results from your supplements were incredible and it showed in him, this chick was flying his first day out of the nest and the others 2 days following him. However, PB was extraordinary an incredible bird, a textbook Chloebia Gouldiae. I could not be happier with his physical and health results! That is why when he died I literally was in shock! PB went from having excellent health to death in four days. During his illness, he was kept warm and isolated in a hospital cage, I treated him with Amoxitex the third day directly to his crop after reviewing his symptoms for 48 hours. I kept record and documented 4 days of swallowing roughly, gagging, and coughing, minimal eating then his death the morning of the 4th day. I am a bit concerned knowing the rest of my birds could possibly follow his path and immediately started my flock on Amoxitex (antibiotic) as added prevention. The flock has been treated with Ronex, S76 (programs) as part of my prevention procedures, and Amoxitex is the only program I have not administered. I know the dangers of administering antibiotics in general which alludes me to the question WAS THIS THE RIGHT THING TO DO? I am on my second day of treatment and I have stopped all supplements in accordance to the recommendations for use of Amoxitex. Is there anything else I can do or that you can suggest during/and when I begin probiotics? Do you know what could have possibly happened? I am sure it could have been many different factors that caused his death and almost impossible to diagnose via letters. I just want to make sure I am caring for them correctly. These birds are kept in immaculate conditions, air filters, filtered water, feeding regiments researched and followed from advice from my readings. Thank you for any advice in the matter and again appreciate any information, advice on continuing the breeding of quality birds.
Hello Angel, I am so happy to hear that your birds are breeding well on my Health Programmes, but I am sad to hear that you have lost Pretty Boy. From your description it sounds like Thrush or a Trichomonas infection. Do you by any chance have Budgerigars in your household? Ronex is good for Trichomonas. I would treat for Thrush first with Nystatin and then use the Ronex for the Trich. All the Best, Rob

Delma Anello from Virginia Beach, VA asks: Hello, thank you for receiving my question. I just recently bought two Lady Gouldians they are just beautiful. I just notice that the male has a toe that is dead or looks like it is ready to come off. Most of his toes have look like they have corns or calluses. Female has the same thing but, not injury to any of her toes. The male eats well and drinks but I might see him at times sitting puff up. He also sings to her for the mating ritual but the female does not respond to him, could he have some kind of disease. I would love to take care of this soon, before things progress. What do you recommend Dr. Rob!
Hello Delma, It sounds like the black toe is most likley dry gangrene from several causes including ergot poisoning but more likely nesting material ischeamia or injury. The toe will eventually fall off, no problem. But until that time it may be painful. Rob

George Simik from Santa Monica asks: I have lost several birds with the following pattern. At first I notice a scaley face and a loss of feathers around the neck and beak. Within a relatively short period of time, four to five weeks, they have wasted away. Just prior to death their waste discharge becomes white and within hours they die. I have had autopsies with no answers other than the liver dissolved. Why are the neck/head feathers the start? Are those feathers supplied by certain organs of the birds body? Which of the bird's organs eventually shuts down transferring the discharge to white?
Hello George, This sounds like the bird is having a heavy moult (head and neck feather loss) and then can not support it nutritionally and becomes unwell. White droppings indicate kidney dehydration, the bird has stopped eating and drinking, etc. THE PROBLEM MAY BE NUTRITIONALLY BASED. My best suggested approach is the full Moult Health Programme and make a further assessment after they have been on it for several months. Rob

David Heilman from Philadelphia, PA asks: Dear Dr. Rob, Let me begin by first telling you how much I enjoyed your books and your products. I recently switched to your products and health programmes and my finches have never been healthier or happier. I do, however, have a few questions that I hope you can help with: (1) Laraine mentions in one of her very informative articles that, due to the high pH of the municipal water source in her area, she uses Megamix in the water everyday that she does not use KD. Do you agree with this approach? If so, at what pH level should this approach be adopted? I ask because the water supply in Philadelphia has a high pH value as well. (2) I recently added full-spectrum lighting to my care regimen. I'm finding it difficult to find a definitive answer regarding how long to use the light each day. The light sits several inches over the cage and the cage is approximately 48" tall. The bulb is 15 Watts, has a color temperature of 5500K, has a CRI of 91, and provides UVA 4% and UVB 0.05%. I've been advised to use the light no more than 2 to 3 hours each day. Does this seem correct to you? Should I be gradually increasing/decreasing the photoperiod throughout the year? My finches' cage is in within several feet of a window, so they do benefit from the seasonal photoperiod changes from that. (3) I'm finding it difficult locating a source of freshly-cut seeding grasses. Do you have any suggestions as to where to search? Local farmers? On-line suppliers? Since I live in a big (and polluted) city, I am afraid to gather anything from local fields, the side of the road, etc. (4) Lastly, do you recommend misting finches? My finches are loath to use the bathtub I provide on a daily basis (perhaps they prefer something more shallow or something that does not sit on the bottom of the cage?) but seem to have an equal disdain for the mist bottle. A local bird store has a mister that provides a constant mist based on water pressure. This eliminates the sound the mist bottle makes each time the trigger is pulled. Do you think they would respond to this product any better? Please excuse the length of this message and the number of questions. Thanks in advance for your help and thanks again for your wonderful books and products. We (and our birds) benefit greatly from them. Cheers.
Hello David, I will answer your questions by number, just like you asked them. 1. When using the Megamix, you are trying to reduce the pH to between 6 - 6.8. Citric acid is not corrosive, but it tastes unpleasant at a very low pH. The best idea is to adjust the dose so the droppings look perfect. I believe that Laraine told me that she is lowering her pH to 4 to insure good droppings. That is okay if they are drinking it and the droppings remain okay. 2. I would recommend that you place your full-spectrum lights on a timer that you adjust to come on approximately 30 minutes after daybreak and then off approximately 30 minutes before dark. This way the birds wake up with the natural light from the window and set to rest for the night with the gradual darkening of the light outdoors. Finches like the Lady Gouldian benefit from the light quality of UVA and UVB bulbs because their feathers contain reflectant properties that allow them to see each other in ways that we cannot see ourselves. It is believed that this may help in the potential pairing process. 3. Finding a good reliable source of seeding grass heads is difficult at best. Would it be possible for you to grow your own in your yard, or even in flower pots on a deck or balcony? If the growing season in your area does not coincide with your breeding season, the fresh seeding grasses can be cleaned and frozen until needed. 4. Many finches will not bathe unless they were exposed to it as juveniles. Misting is a good way of allowing them to preen and clean their feathers. I have had reports from other breeders that the pressure mister works best because the noises of the misting bottle are eliminated. You might want to use both S76 or KD Water Cleanser at different times in your mister to promote elimination of external parasites and removal of dead insects from the feathers. All the Best, Rob

Craig Stout from United States of America, State of Utah asks: First, thank you for taking my question. Can the irritation from mites cause finches eyes to close up? Yesterday our two shaft tail finches came out of their nesting box (they have a couple eggs in there) and their eyes were closed tight. They were floundering around the cage completely blind. I took them and cleaned thier eyes, removed them to a "hospital cage" and observed to make sure they were able to eat and drink (they showed no other symptoms of illness). Throughout the day they improved. This morning their eyes are open and they seem to be doing well. I inspected the nesting box and found quite a lot of mites present (at least that is what they look like to me based on some of the photos in your book). The female shaft tail is new to our cage (about 3 weeks) and came with some partial feather loss on the back of her neck and rear underside of her body (possible Epidermoptic mites?). I am planning on treating them, the flock and the cage according to your book with S76, Coopex, and KD baths). Am I on the right track, or is there something else I should be looking for and treating?
Hello Craig, Certainly red mites will attach to eyelids as they are unfeathered and suck blood causing them to swell and stick together and be painful. Treat according to Red Mite Infestation instructions in Gouldian Health Book. All the Best, Rob

Diane Kilmer from IL asks: Took my canary to vet on Friday for a respiratory problem. Vet found a fluid that kept building up on inside top beak. He thought this could be a sinus infection. Took culture found some bacteria in culture. Vet gave him a antibiotic shot and also treated him for air sac mites. He also gave me antibiotic in liquid form to treat him for 8 days. This all happened on Friday. On Saturday my canary seemed better however I could not get him to take the antibiotic on Saturday. On Sunday his breathing seemed fine. Later in the morning his breathing became very raspy again. At that time I was able to get the antibiotic in him. However, his condition has not improved and his breathing sounds even worse. He is open mouthed and very distressed. My question is, can i do anything else to help him? Pretty stressed at this point.
Hello Diana, It is difficult to administer medicines directly to canaries. It works best if you use a small spoon or better still if he is still drinking place medicine in drinking water as it will not overstress his breathing. Trying to force the medicine on him may have spilt into airways. I WOULD DOSE ANTIBIOTIC IN DRINKING WATER AND KEEP HIM QUIET. You will need to get mixing rate from your vet. Good Luck, Rob

Jeanne Briseno from New Mexico asks: Dear Dr. Rob, my canary, who has been treated for suspected airsac mites, is coughing, has a nasal discharge, makes a gurgling sound at times, and occasionally I can hear the sound of his labored breathing two feet away. He is alert, active and eating. In the past I have treated him with Amoxicillin/Tylosine for five days, and he seemed to improve, but then the symptoms reappeared and I treated him for seven days with the same antibiotic. Weeks later now he is still having this respiratory problem. What would you recommend?
Hello Jeanne, I sorry for the delay in getting back to you and your canary. This sounds like a Streptococcol infection initiated by fluctuating temperatures or food contamination (especially greens). We need more info to identify underlying cause of stressful factor. Canker will look like this so a canker trial would also be helpful. All the Best, Rob

Maria V. Lopez from Miami, FL asks: I have two canary. When bought the both of them sing great now one does not sing . He open his mouth and move his tongue. He is on canary food, Harrison’s mash, song food and for molting. Anything else I need to do? Maria
Hello Maria, Many times when a canary stops singing it is because if irritation caused by air-sac mites. I would treat for these mites and then assess his condition. All the Best, Rob

Andrea Bonoldi from Southborough, MA asks: I have a lady gouldian that once in a while has started to occasionally squat on his perch and is not himself. I gave him some Essential vitamins D3 with amino acids(one concentrated drop by mouth ea. day) as I have in the past lost finches that went balding from a lack of iodine in their diet. I gave him the vitamin every day for about a week and a half (usually I give it once or twice a week to all my finches)and he stopped squatting and became very active ...I have continued to give him by mouth one drop of the concentrated Essential Vitamin D3 once a day but in a couple of days he is again squatting. Last night he seemed to be starting to breathe a little heavier than before but his morning he is fine. Are these sick symptoms familiar to you. My next step will bring him to the vet which could treat him for air sac mites or just him an antibiotic. Prior to the squatting we did have him out and he was laying on areas that our cat lies....Could he have gotten infected some how and would he be acting this way if he had. Thanks for our help. Andrea
Hello Andrea, I would suggest that you have this bird looked over by your avian vet. It is hard to tell from what you have related, exactly what the problem might be. Good Luck, Rob

Victoria Kneer from Sacramento, CA asks: I have a several lady gouldians. I bought 3 pair last year. Since last year I had one successful clutch. Of the 3 pair I started with I lost 1 female and all 3 males. I also lost all the males that were born. I am down to four females. The first one I lost I found dead and was never aware she was ill. The males I lost one at a time over several months. They all became lethargic, did a lot of beak wiping and had a clicking noise when they were breathing. I assumed it was air sac mites as did the vet. We treated for it but then I lost 2 more after the treatment. I now have 1 female (one of the 2 females left from last year) that does not look well. She sits all day, most of the time with her eyes closed. She was bald for a while. When eveyone went through their molt, she grew her head feathers back but now she scratches all the time and is losing them again. I am at a loss for what the problem is. The others seem ok. Is this a dietary issue or is she sick? I think she's ill because I am seeing a white discharge from the nostril area of her beak. I have been treating her with Amoxitex but she doesn't seem to be getting better (or worse)...Help!
Hello Victoria, I would consider this to be most likely Ornithosis and nutritionally or environmentally based. I would recommend treating with KD Water Cleanser and my Health Programme along with S76, for 3 weeks. After this time I would reassess the activity of the birds and possibly do a trial test for Ornithosis. Laraine can help you with all of these steps. All the Best, Rob