Common Finch Diseases

Common Finch Diseases

Spotting a sick finch is most of the times an easy task, especially if you know what signs to look for. Most sick finches will become very docile and not move at all, they will stay clear of other birds and their activities and almost lose total interest in their surroundings. Food intake will drop and the bird unless treated may not fully recover.

Signs to look for may include: Head facing back, no longer sitting upright, tail and wings drooping very low, puffed up feathers, partially open eyes, fatigued and squatting on floor.

First steps for sickly birds:

  1. Catch it and remove it from its current environment. (Do Not delay on this, it may already be a little too late)
  2. A sick bird should be placed in its own cage and if possible one with a heat lamp. this is known as a quarantine cage. Having a quarantine cage will ensure you offer correct care for the bird without interference form other birds. It will also ensure you don’t spread the potential disease.
  3. Food and Water. Ensure you have sufficient food and water in your quarantine cage. Offer the normal seed mix but also add a smaller dish with mealworms or maggots. this softer food may assist in recovery.
  4. If in a cold environment ensure a heat lamp is available. Besides the obvious heating benefits, the light itself will assist in production of antibodies.
  5. Once settled in the quarantine cage, begin your research to identify the problem or disease. Only then administer the correct medicine.

A list of common disorders:

  • Colds Egg Binding
  • Coccidiosis
  • Parasitical worms
  • Scaly face
  • Air sac mites
  • Fractures
  • Overgrown Nails
  • Lack of feathers


Symptoms: The birds is lethargic and has puffed up feathers. Careful observations shows that it sleeps a lot. Diarrhea is present.

Cause: Can be caused from fluctuation in temperatures, damp environments, constant drafts. All of these are drivers towards lowering the birds general resistance thus causing it to get sick.

Treatment: Move the bird to quarantine. Ensure food and water is provided.  However the birds will require antibiotics. (Terramycin for example will assist in recovery) You will need to consult your local veterinarian. Broad spectrum antibiotics are available off the shelf at local pet stores however this may not be the right action to take.  Adding a probiotic to the water will in getting the good bacteria back in its gut.

 Example Broad Spectrum Antibiotic – Vetafarm Triple C

Egg Binding

Symptoms:  if you find your female finch and yes only female finches will get this problem she will most likely be on the floor of the cage or aviary. You will immediately notice sign so of struggle or discomfort. Her feather may also be raised as she is trying to push out the stuck egg. If she does not pass the egg, she will die. 

Cause: Egg binding is quite common in colder weather. lack of calcium and oils in their diet will also cause egg binding so it is important that you spot this one sooner than later. 

Treatment: There is not much you can do to assist a bird that is already suffering from this problem. DO not try and force the egg out for attempt in anyway to remove it yourself. the best thing you can do it move the bird to a quarantine cage and closely monitor its activity. Add cod liver oil to the birds diet. this can be done by mixing a few drops of cod liver oil with the seed. Also ensure calcium is added to the diet. This can be provided thorough cuttle bone, grit and eggshells.

Example Supplement that assist in preventing egg binding – The good oil. 


Symptoms: The bird will have a wet vent and diarrhoea. It will be fluffed up and although has some energy when approached will sleep a lot.

Cause: Coccidiosis is a parasite that is found in the intestinal lining of birds. It is easily transmitted to other birds through interaction. Unless treated correctly you will start to notice more and more of your birds developing the same symptoms.

Treatment: After exact diagnosis of coccidiosis a correct course of Sulphadim/Sulfonamide is required. Sulfonamide antibiotic for the treatment of Coccidiosis, Enteritis, susceptible bacterial infections, and diarrhoea in ornamental caged birds. When administering ensure the cage is cleaned daily to prevent re-infestation. This broad spectrum antibiotic is normally administered through the drinking water. Use only with glass or plastic drinking containers.

Example Coccidiosis Medication – Aristopet Sulphadim

Parasitical Worms

Symptoms: Spotting worms is easy. they will be present in the finches droppings, mouth and sometimes present in the water dishes. There are many types of worms that effect finches.  Tapeworm, Threadworm, Caecal worm, Roundworm, Gape worm and Gizzard worm. The finch will eventually get very weak and will die unless properly teated.

Causes: Worm s are picked up from finches eating live foods, droppings and from parents feeding their young.  open cage aviaries can also get infections from outside bird droppings falling into the cage.

Treatment: Routine worm management plans are probably the best way to prevent and infections and subsequent loss of your birds. I use a Broad spectrum all wormer containing Praziquantel and Levamisole that covers all the type of worms that effect finches. Dosage and directions will vary according to product.

Example Worm meidcation – Aristopet Wormenda plus

Scaly Face

Symptoms: Knemidocoptes jamaiscensis is the form of scaly face that effects finches. Scaly face is when the mites burrow into the feathers and lay there eggs. It will continue to worsen as the eggs hatch and the mites grow. A scaly like film will develop over the skin, it can also effect the eye and if not treated may permanently effect the bird. Scaly leg mites is also a known disease. These mites affect birds leg by laying eggs in the skin. The damage is considerable and if not treated can become fatal.

Causes: Caused by the infection of mites. Transmission is normally occurred through feeding between the parents and young. Transmission between adult birds is known but not always the main source for transmission.

Treatment: In mild cases of burrowing mites, the treatment of the bird with paraffin (also known as paraffin oil and generally available in pharmacies)

Example Scaly face treatment – Aristopet Scaly face and leg treatment

Air sac mite:

Symptoms: Found commonly in Gouldians and Canaries air sac mite can be a very fatal disease. Scinetifcally known as Sternostoma tracheacolum this mite infects the respiratory system of the bird.

Causes: Transmission is caused by feeding cycles (Parents to young and during courtship) Common symptoms will include a cough, loss of voice and distinctive yet not normal chirp. All related to breathing air sac mite can go by undetected.

Treatment: Proper treatment involves using and insecticide to fully eradicate the mite. The average life cycle of the mite from egg to maturity is 6 days. Treatment with a spray containing ivermectin will remove the mite. Ensure you treat all birds and not just the infected.

Example air sac mite treatment – Aristopet mite and Lice Spray


Symptoms: Physical signs of injury, such as dragging wing, preference to perching on one leg. Leg hanging loosely.

Causes: Its never a great sight but this occurs from night scares, flying against the cage or aviary.

Treatment: There is not much you can do but rather try and get the bird off to a veterinarian if possible. Depending on the break the birds leg may able to be repaired. A splintmay be applied alowing the leg to rest and realign itself.  Full repair can take anywhere between 1 to 2 weeks.

Overgrown nails

Symptoms: Without proper perching materials claws/nails will not naturally wear and will become overgrown. Overgrown nails will prevent the bird from being able to perch. They could also get stuck and bound in nesting materials and can die from being hung upside down.

Causes: Poor variety in perches. No natural wearing of nails.

Treatment: Cut the claws with sharp scissors. Pay attention not to injure the blood vessels. (The dark areas of the nails) To prevent further issues with overgrown nails provide a variety of thick and thin branches in the aviary or cage. This will assist in natural wearing of nails.

Lack of feathers

Symptoms: Lack of feather in the head and neck of the bird.

Causes: lack of natural sunlight. 

Treatment: Place the cage near a window for regular intervals allowing natural light into the cage.

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