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Finally...answers to all your Gouldian Questions.
We have received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from finch owners each month. Here are the most Frequently Asked Questions that we have received. We want to do everything we can to help your birds lead longer, healthier lives. Please remember however, we do not have veterinarian qualifications and that our answers will never be as comprehensive as an evaluation by a qualified avian veterinarian.

Most Beautiful Finch in the World
by Joanne

The Lady Gouldian Finch originates across northern Australia from Derby in the west across to Cape York Peninsula. Their range in recent times has shrunk dramatically. Legal and illegal trapping up until the 1970s resulted in large numbers being taken for the avicultural trade. However, more recently, their decline may be attributed to rural development, particularly in the cattle and mining industry. Another factor inhibiting the Gouldian Finch is a high level of infection by an endoparisitic mite which affects its respiratory system. It is believed that less than 2,500 mature gouldians exist in the wild.

In 1841 the English Ornithologist, John Gould, while on an Australian expedition came across what most believe to be the most beautiful finch in the world. John Gould named this magnificent finch, "The Lady Gouldian", to honor his artist wife, Lady Elizabeth Gould.

The first living Gouldian finches to arrive in England in 1887 created a sensation. I know how those bird lovers felt, just as I felt the first time I saw this remarkable finch. It was "Love at First Sight." The colors that these birds exhibit almost border on the unnatural.


Lady Gouldian Finch

Latin name: Cloebia Gouldiae
Other names: Rainbow Bird
Description: Size 135mm-145mm.
Male: Weight 15 grams. The head is black, (dominant coloration of wild populations) red or yellow. The upper breast is a rich velvet lilac. The lower breast, upper belly and flanks are a chrome yellow. The back and wings are grass-green. The rump and upper tail are cobalt blue. The black tail has two extended pin feathers at the central point. The beak is ivory with a red or yellow tip on the male. Legs and feet are flesh-colored. The eyes are dark brown.
Female: The coloration is basically the same as that of the male, with the exception being that the colors, overall, are a more subdued version. She is duller with a noticeably paler chest and belly color. The beak turns grey/black during breeding. Some females have the chest color almost as intense as males, and these strains are highly sought after by the avicultural purists.





Social Structure and Behavior

What age should the Gouldians be when I purchase them?
I always suggest that you purchase juveniles of at least 6 months and take the next 6 months to create for them the best possible diet and environment for a happy healthy life. This includes the ability to raise a healthy clutch of progeny. Even if the birds that you purchase are older than 6 months, I think that it is a mistake to allow them to breed without a proper diet. The stress of breeding will only weaken them and you will most likely loose your hen to eggbinding in the process.

What other birds can I keep with my Gouldians in my mixed aviary?
They do very well in a mixed collection of small to medium size seed- such as parrot finch, societies, canaries, zebra, cordon blues, owl and other Australian finches. The Gouldian can be stressed when mixed with aggressive species such as budgies, rosellas, quail and doves. Gouldians are social birds and prefer to be kept in a colony setting.

How long does the average Lady Gouldian Finch live?
I have several clients who have Gouldians that lived to be 12 years of age. I have Gouldians that are up to eight years old. So much depends on the quality of housing and nutrition that your birds receive. If properly cared for, Gouldians will live up to eight years.

I don’t want to breed Gouldians. I only want to enjoy their beauty.
If breeding is not desired, females or males can be kept together without difficulty. I have several clients who have flights filled with all males of every head and body color. They tell me it is magnificient!

What size cage should I have for my pair of Gouldians?
Gouldians enjoy flying, therefore, the larger the cage the better. Ideally the cage for a pair of finches should measure a minimum of 36" long by 14" and 10" wide. Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Cage.

What caused my bird to drop over dead with no visual signs of stress?
Any of the following could cause sudden death: night frights, poisoning, heatstroke, acute disease, coccidiosis, collision in flight with a larger bird, heart attack, stroke, lack of water or food due to introducing a new bird to unfamiliar surroundings late in the day.

Why does my bird throw its head back?
The most common reason I have found is the bird is feeling too confined in a small cage. Also the perch could be placed too close to the roof of the cage. Brain damage, result of infection or accident could also be the reason. Many people confuse this behavior with ‘Twirling.’



Breeding Care for Your Gouldian

How old should my Gouldians be to breed?
Gouldians can be successfully bred when they are about one year old. However, birds at this age seldom get it right! I normally don’t pair my birds until they are two years of age. My best results are with two to three year old birds.

What should I feed my Gouldians so they can feed their babies?
Unfortunately it is way too late for you to begin changing the diet of your Gouldians for their parental duties. If you reference my article on Breeding Season Start-up and the DIET section you will find helpful hints on how to get your Gouldians going on a proper diet the same of which I have been feeding my birds for a number of years with good success.

How do I get my birds into breeding condition?
Traditional captive birds diets have protein levels between 8% and 12%. These are too low for either good adult breeding stimulation or maximum chick growth. There are two ways to improve dietary protein. The first is to add limiting amino acids to the diet. This guarantees (if you add enough) that the bird can utilize all of the protein in the seed, fruit, greens that you are feeding. To achieve this, simply feed Hearty Bird in a good quality eggfood or on fruit and vegetables. But this does not provide enough protein for maximum stimulation of breeders.

To stimulate breeding the second mathod, is to add Breeders Blend to the same soft food. Breeders Blend is a very high protein supplement that has worked wonders for both fertility, chick growth and feather quality.

How do I know if my birds are ready to breed?
Assuming that your birds are in breeding condition, place a nest box in their cage. Females may not like the male you have chosen. They can be very picky! Watch carefully to see if she accepts his advances. If she allows him to get close to her and to perform his male display, this is a very good indication that she approves. If she chases him off, she is either not in breeding condition or does not like him. If they sit perched together at night, you know they have bonded. Breeding condition for the hen would be indicated by a darkening gray/black of her beak.

My male Gouldian died. Will my female bond with a new male?
Gouldian Finches are monogamous, and pair bonding is relatively strong for the duration of the breeding season. However, if a mate is lost, normally the following breeding season either sex will re-bond with a new mate.

What is the normal breeding season for Goudians?
There is no normal season in my experience. Some of my birds begin breeding in early summer and others late fall. Breeders that I know who are in warmer climates have breeding seasons at different times than those in colder climates. I find that so much depends on climate conditions, nutrition and the time of year a bird was born.

How many broods should my Gouldian have in one breeding season?
In the wild Gouldian Finches restrict their nestings to two broods a season. The ideal environment offered in captivity provides the birds with an extended breeding period, and three broods could be expected.

What type of nest box should I give my Gouldians?
Each breeder has his or her favorite type of nest box. When choosing a nest for your Gouldian, keep in mind that these birds traditionally nest in tree hollows and, therefore, the nest box should reflect the natural needs of the birds. nest box my Gouldians prefer has an entrance hole at one end with an entrance porch, which then steps down into the breeding chamber. The Gouldian likes a small entrance hole unlike the society that prefers the wider opening.

How long does it take to incubate Gouldian eggs?
The hen lays five to seven eggs. On occasions, eight eggs may be laid. Incubation commences on the laying of the fifth egg. The incubation period is 14-15 days.

How do I know if my eggs are fertile?
Both sexes share the incubation duties through the day with the female incubating at night. Sometimes the male will also sit at night. Normally the male will roost close to the nest box. After they have been sitting "tight" for five to six days, candle their eggs. Don’t permit them to sit for the entire 14 days on infertile eggs. Read more detailed information in Breeding 1.

When do I candle eggs?
Once the female starts her incubation, termed ‘sitting the clutch’ or ’ sitting tight’, the eggs can be candled after 6 - 7 days to check for fertility. You can use a small pen light flashlight or an Egg Candler. A large degree of care should be given when handling the eggs. If you need to pick them up, you should use a plastic spoon. I try not to handle the eggs and just candle them in the nest. To candle the egg just place the light directly against the egg. An infertile egg will appear pale, shinny and clear. If the eggs are fertile the shell will now appear dull or have a matte finish to it. This embryo is in its early stage of development. The tiny blood veins radiating out from the heart will cause a pinkish color inside the egg.

Why does my hen not lay an egg each day?
If the hen lays irregularly by skipping a day or two or more in the laying of the whole clutch, it means the rhythm of nature is not functioning properly. This is common in early season breeding, or if she is not in top condition for breeding. It is unwise to breed this hen. She might set on her eggs for a few days and then desert. If she does desert, the eggs most likely are infertile. Even if the eggs are fertile, the chances of this hen being a good feeder is poor. Place the hen back in the flight for at least four weeks and improve her diet until she comes into top breeding condition.

How far in advance must copulation take place for an egg to be fertile?
The view of several well informed and experienced breeders that I know feel that the minimum time is four to five days. Some consider the minimum time to be 48 hours, others 36 hours. I have never sought to determine this fact.

When does incubation begin?
The majority of gouldian hens get to their incubating temperature after laying their fifth egg. This causes all the eggs to hatch on the same day. Experienced breeders know that a young born as much as two days later than the rest of the young in a nest of three or more young has a chance of surviving only with the unusual hen. With the average hen, its chances are poor. In all my years of breeding birds I have only had two hens that had the intelligence to feed the young born just two days later.

What are the "blue" spots on either side of its face? Is this a fungus?
Since the Gouldian had to feed their young in spaces with little light, Gouldian finches exhibit a fascinating design feature. There are two sets of pearly-iridescent, blue-purplish nodules at the margin of the beak set back towards the rear. These nodules (also called tubercles or papillae) can be clearly seen on young finches inside the nest. In conditions of dim light, such as inside the nest, these nodules readily pick up and reflect the faint light from their surroundings. They produce no light of their own. They appear to ‘glow’ in all but total darkness. Their obvious purpose is to act as guides for the parents so they can find the right spot into which to place the food.

How do I know when to separate the babies from their parents?
Babies fledge from the nest at 21 days. They are normally eating on their own 7 days later. Providing millet spray, soaked seed and sprouted seed will encourage them to try eating on their own. Watch them closely and when you are sure they are eating on their own and not begging for food, you can place them in their own cage. See Breeding article 2.

Please Help Me! My birds have thrown their babies out of the nest!
Hang in there. You can do this. Go to the article on abandoned babies. The author shares her experience on how she saved Baby and Buddy when they were only a day old!

Why did my birds throw their chicks out of the nest?
Sometimes first clutches result in failures. The age of your birds makes a big difference. You should really allow your birds to age to at least one year before you allow them to breed. I wait until my birds are two years old. They are better prepared physically and mature Gouldians just don’t seem to make as many mistakes. You could compare it to teenage parenthood! More information in Abandoned Babies.

My Gouldian will not stop laying eggs even after taking the nest out.
By removing the nest box you should have stopped the breeding, but I guess that you have one of those pairs that will breed without the seclusion and privacy the nest box offers. Next separate the pair. If this is impossible, take the last set of eggs that she laid and hard boil them. Place them back in the nest and let her sit as long as possible. This should break the nesting cycle.

Other reasons why youngsters can be pitched out of the nests?
Parents may need to dispose of dead nestlings to prevent fouling of the nest, interference by humans, other birds, vermin or predators, male’s nesting drive, lack of appropriate diet, nest invaded by ants or lice, or temperature fluctuations.

Is it ok to foster my Gouldian babies?
My BEST parents, who raised their own clutch, were all fostered by societies. Fostering is a tool that permits responsible breeders to improve the quality of their strains far more quickly that by just relying on the parent raised Gouldians. More information in the Fostering article.

Can I keep an extra female Gouldian with my pair?
If a single cage contains a pair of breeding birds and you introduce a single (female or male) bird, there will be pandemonium. The single bird will most likely be attacked and plucked until it dies. You will know within a couple of hours that this situation is not satisfactory. If they are not breeding, the circumstances might be different.

Why are my birds not breeding?
Investigate the following areas: Not the appropriate breeding season; two birds of the same sex; old age; overcrowding; insufficient nesting sites or material; stress; temperature or weather conditions; obesity and diet. Many suggestions in the Breeding article.

Why do my birds never look in peak condition?
Try using Dr Marshall's Supplements. The results will be fantastic. Clients report, Be careful what you wish for, increased cluth size, higher hatch rate and increased chick health when using his products. Another excellent product is Feather Fast that you can use during the next molt.



What size cage do I need for my Gouldians?

1.   The cage should be large enough for your bird to fly without hitting the bars. Buy the largest cage you can reasonably manage in your home.

2.   A good quality cage finish, all non-toxic material. With the exception of stainless steel, all metal is subject to rust, discoloration or eventual corrosion, depending on environmental factors.

3.   An entry door for easy access to your bird, not too large that your bird can escape. Also it should have secure fasteners on the door.

4.   Bar spacing that is small enough that your finches cannot stick their heads through the bars.

5.   A pull-out bottom tray for easy cleaning.

6.   At least two horizontal bars for sufficient exercise. Set one high and one low.

7.   Enough feeders to allow separate dishes for seed, fruits, nesting food and greens.

8.   Large enough to accommodate the proper nest container if breeding is desired.

9.   Wheels, casters or a handle for carrying and ease of movement.

10.   A shelf or cabinet on the stand below the cage to allow you to store accessory items plus a seed guard, directing debris to the bottom of the cage and away from the floor.

Birds In Glass Houses
Click Here
An excellent quality aviary that my Niece has in her home is "Birds in Glass Houses". She choose their aviary because they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and she wanted her birds to be visible from any corner of her living room. Her second major concern was keeping the seed in side the aviary. She has two young children and they were enough for her to clean up after! She was delighted with the wonderful support and service she received from the company and wanted to recommend them to anyone who is looking for a quality glass Aviary.

Where should I place my cage?
Place the cage away from sources of intense heat and cold, such as windows, radiators, fireplaces, air conditioners and exterior doors. Never locate a cage in the kitchen if you use nonstick-coated cookware. The fumes can be lethal to birds.

Why do the eggs disappear?
Parents accidently break the eggs and ants eat the residue. One or both parents are ‘rogue’ egg eaters-a very difficult habit to break.



General Care for your Gouldian

How do I know if my Gouldian has the air sac mite?
Signs include: Heavy breathing; open-mouth breathing; stain on feathers around nostrils; coughing (clicking sounds); sneezing and the birds stop singing. Refer to the in depth article on the air sac mite, Number One Killer of Gouldian Finches for diagonsis and treatment information.

Do all birds get the air sac mite?
Bird species which have this problem include the Gouldian Finch, Cordon Bleu Finch, European Goldfinch, Society Finch and the Canary. Some Parakeets and Cockatiels have also been reported.

Administration of SCATTHow do I administer the SCATT liquid to my bird?
Place a drop of liquid on the back of the bird at the base of the neck between the wings. Make sure you place the drop of liquid on the skin.

How long does it take my finches to get better after I apply SCATT?
The lightly to moderately effected birds show dramatic improvement in 24-48 hours. Severely infected birds can take weeks to bounce back. Treating with antibiotic for secondary infections on the lesions in the air sacs and lungs is important if they are severely infected. Based on my experience the propagation of airsac mites is very slow, taking several months between infestation and symptoms. Most Gouldians will not become debilitated by airsac mites until they are near death. The characteristic clicking sound will be heard for days to weeks while the parasite is propagating.

Should I disinfect my cage after applying SCATT?
The airsac mite is very persistent. You must thoroughly clean and disinfect the affected cages, nests and surrounding area with an effective prythrin bug spray while treating with SCATT. The airsac mite does not fly and it is not entirely clear how the mite gets around, probably on airborne dust.

Is SCATT safe to use before my birds start breeding?
You can treat your adult birds before you set them up for the breeding season if you have the mite.You don’t want to pass the mite onto the babies. One treatment should be all you need.

Can I use Ivermectin for "cattle" to treat air sac mites?
The pour-on Ivormec for cattle, made by Merck is the brand of Ivermectin that I used for years before SCATT came on the market. Ivomec Pour-on for cattle comes ready to use without dilution in 5mg ivermectin/mL. One drop placed directly on the skin at the base of the neck should be sufficient. My vet said to apply it 4 times, once every 7 days. Check after 4 applications to make sure your birds are free of the mite.

Will Ivermectin kill roundworm in my birds?
Ivermectin has no effect on treating round and tapeworm. There are better products out there. I use Worm Away for my Gouldians.

My Gouldian is turning it’s head and losing its balance?
This is a condition called "twirling syndrome". The onset is sudden with conspicuous circling followed by depression and weight loss. Mortality may reach 50%. Some birds recover completely while others retain a permanent head tilt. I personally believe that in 80% of the cases it is caused by stress, be it housing, diet, mate, or enviornment. To date I have NOT nor has there ever been any known scientific proof that twirling is a genetic disorder. Read more in the article on ‘Twirling’.

How do I know if my finch has lice or feather mite?
To check your finch for lice, spread the wing out and hold it up to a strong light. The lice can be seen moving along the feathers. Lice can not live for very long away from the bird. Control with safe insecticides on the bird. Treatments include Control, S76 or Pestex, depending on which one works best for you and your bird.

What should my room temperature be for my Gouldians?
Gouldians are comfortable in temperatures in which you are comfortable. Books on Lady Gouldian finches suggest they should be kept at temperatures around 80 degrees! This simply is not true! This does not mean you should expose birds that are used to 80 degrees into a room that is 50 degrees. They must be acclimated.

How do I trim my birds toe nails?
Birds’ nails need to be trimmed to prevent injury especially during breeding season. This can be done with finger nail clippers or bird nail clippers. Have a bottle of Blood Stop or a dish of flour next to you in case the bird’s toe begins to bleed. Hold the bird in your hand with it’s head facing down toward your wrist to reach the nails easily and to prevent escape. Clip back nail but look carefully for the small blood vessel. It can be seen in most Gouldian nails.

I can’t get my Gouldian finches to bathe?
Most finches love to bathe. I have so many Gouldians that I can not fill the bath water dishes as often as I should. I fill a plant mister bottle as follows: a shot glass mixture of ½ Listerine and ½ white vinegar to 1 quart of water. At first the spray frightens them. However, after several applications they learn to love it!



Health Care for Your Gouldian

Why should I supplement my Finches? They do very well on dry seed.
Australia is the driest continent in the world. So we all know that the wildlife there exists on very dry feed all year round. Wrong! Certainly this is true of the dry season. This is why many of the Australian and African species can tolerate poor quality diets for extended periods of time. Dry seed diets reflect dry season diets and are not adequate for either the long-term health of pet birds or good breeding performance.

In the Australian wet season even the deserts come to life and bloom. The dried up creeks flow into the salt pans and turn them back into real lakes again. Plant growth is spectacular; the landscape turns bright green; insect numbers increase and feed quality improves dramatically. In the wet season wild birds breed! In temperate climates it is the summer that provides the best nutritional conditions for breeding.

How do I know if my finches have vitamin deficiencies?
Some signs of vitamin deficiency are: poor reproduction, lethargy, poor appetite, fits, egg binding, wasting, kidney disease, low fertility, hemorrhage and over eating to name a few.

Can I over-do vitamins?
Most vitamins are soluble in water. Any excess of these taken in through the diet are flushed through the system and excreted in the urine. So these vitamins are safe at almost any dose. Four vitamins however (A, D, E and K) are fat soluble. These are stored in the liver and if given in huge amounts over a very extended period will overfill the liver and cause damage. Too much vitamin D may also cause calcium problem in the bones.

For these vitamins to be dangerous, however, the levels have to be very high. None of my recommended diets get anywhere near these levels. However, one word of warning is worthwhile. Don’t feed lots of different unbalanced vitamin supplements all together. Cod liver oil, wheat germ oil, carrots and a few egg foods contain very high levels of fat soluble vitamins without a good balance of other vital water soluables.

Why do my birds never look in peak codition?
Consider the following reasons: harassment from other birds, inadequate bathing facilities, parasite infection i.e. worms or lice, overcrowding, obesity, stress, stuck in the molt or improper diet. Any diet that is low in fats and oils will be deficient in linoleic acid. Deficiencies of this vitamin will show up as dullness and lack of sheen in the feathers, poor feather condition listlessness and loss of weight. Try supplementing with Breeding Tonic and see if it helps.

Can you mix drugs together?
No. But CalciBoost/Calcium Plus, Saniclens/Sparakle, Survive, Daily Essentials and Energize can be mixed.

How can I get my Gouldians to eat more than just seed? Help!
Reference my articles on Sprouting Spray Millet and Teacher Birds. You will find great suggestions to improve their diets!

Why do you recommend supplementing finches with Bee Pollen?
Because the Lady Gouldian finch is a very "picky eater" it is hard to insure a proper diet. Bee Pollen contains amino acids, omega3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, up to twenty five naturally trace elements and all know natural vitamins. Bee Pollen contains bioflavonoids which promote health in many different ways. Bee Pollen is also very rich in enzymes which are necessary for the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Bee Pollen is an extra insurance policy to guarantee good health for my Gouldians.

Everyone tells me my Gouldians need grit in their diet, is this true?
Birds that crack seed do not need grit. Others like poultry that consume the whole seed need grit to grind the husk.

Do my finches need Oyster shell and Charcoal in their diets?
Oyster shell is an excellent source of calcium and iodine that is necessary for all caged birds to aid in the formation of strong bones and firm egg shells. Charcoal is an excellent aid to digestion. Charcoal helps combat hyperacidity and it sweetens the stomach. See Dish of Dirt.

Why did my hen get egg bound? She has cuttlebone all the time!
Throw away that cuttlefish bone! Most of the cuttlefish eaten goes straight out in the droppings. The difficulty with calcium is getting it to dissolve inside the gut. I use Calcium Plus a super-saturated calcium solution that is easily absorbed and quickly gets to the bones, nerves and muscles where it is needed. It is so effective that most of the year you will only need it once a week (twice for African greys and eclectus).

Why is my Gouldian bald?
Balding Gouldian Balding is caused by an iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency is a common problem in caged birds but especially common in the Goudian and other Australian finches. Insufficient iodine results in balding around the head and neck. Why these finches have a much higher requirement for iodine is not known. The Australian conditions may have an abundance of iodine in the food chain. Additional iodine can be provided by adding grated cuttlebone on their greens, sprouted seed or egg food. Oyster shell is another great source of iodine. Liquid-Kelp is an excellent provider of iodine. Refer to the Remedies section of the site for administration and additional information.

Why didn’t my Gouldian’s head finish getting all it’s color?
Your bird has had an incomplete juvenile molt. This is called "Stuck in the Molt". This can happen for several reasons change in temperature, improper diet, bacterial or fungle infection. When they molt for the first time as an adult the coloring out process will finish.

Why does my Gouldian sit fluffed up?
A chronic disease or infection will cause this behavior. Exposure to too low a temperature can also cause him to sit fluffed up.

Why did my juveniles waste away and perish?
This question is hard to answer. Some areas to consider are: weaned too soon by the parents, stress, sudden weather change or insufficient food. A finch’s metabolism is very active and it can starve to death in as little as 24 hours if it does not eat or drink. Read below what happened to an experienced breeder when he forgot to supply water to his juveniles.

forgot the waterI wanted to share my terrible experience with your viewers. Hopefully it might prevent this from happening to someone else. I am an experienced breeder. I had taken 13 baby chicks from their parents, banded them and placed them into a large flight in order to observe them for several days to make sure they were eating on their own. Completing my task by 5:30 p.m., I didn't return until 6:30 the following evening. ALL 13 babies were dead on the bottom of the flight. I forgot to give them a water bottle. Most birds will not survive 24 hours without water, especially babies. Please be CAREFUL.

My finch constantly ate, but he wasted away?
If your bird constantly eats, I guarantee you the bird is sick! This is called "Going Light". Veterinarians do not even know the answer to this question. Here are some things that can trigger going light: enteritis; liver, kidney, respiratory infections; worms; cancer; parasites; malnutrition; baby birds introduced to hard seed too soon; bad water; bad seed or an abrupt diet change. It is critical that you catch the bird in the early stages. Waiting greatly lessens your chances of saving the bird. Vital organs can be damaged so severely that it will be impossible to save the bird. Place the bird in a hospital cage and call for an appointment with your vet.

Why should I use Trace Minerals in my birds diet?
Many breeders maintain that the "Going Light" disease is NOT a disease, but a nutritional deficiency caused by the gut shutting down, making it impossible for the digestive system to absorb the nutrients that they are feeding their birds. Most nutritionists agree that trace minerals are vital to good health. Because Goulds are very "Picky Eaters" I use trace minerals as another insurance policy to guarantee their good health. You can not overdose with them. Excess minerals will pass through your birds system.

Can I use Ronex throughout the breeding season?
Yes, Ronex can be used with chicks in the nest.

Why are the eggs not hatching?
Consider any of the following reasons: unsuccessful copulation, parents too old, parents temporarily or permanently infertile, conditions too dry, clutch was allowed to go cold at sometime during the incubation, fungal or bacterial infection and dietary deficiency in the parent birds. In my experience I have found the most common reason is the latter. Refer to Diet article for more complete explanation.

Why are my birds "dead in shell"?
Dead in shell can be caused by a number of different problems. A careful examination of the egg is necessary to know at which point in the development of the embryo the chick died. Embryos dead in the shell are also commonly caused by a deficiency of iodine. Once supplementation begins, my own experience has shown a drop from as high as an 80% mortality rate to a rate of less than 10%. Very little iodine is needed, but that trace amount is crucial to life.

Why are my hens egg shells so soft?
Soft-shelled eggs, small clutches and soft bones are normally symptoms that will appear as a result of vitaminD3 deficiency. If your finches are housed outdoors in the sunlight, the ultraviolet rays of the sunlight shining on the skin will change a substance on the skin to vitamin D3. Refer to Robert Black’s article on lighting. I supplement my Gouldians with Calcium Plus to supplement vitaminD3 in their diets.

Why is my male sterile?
The most common reason for male sterility in birds is a deficiency of vitamin E while the male reproductive system is developing. Even if adequate quantities of vitamin E are supplied from that time on, the sterility is still permanent and irreversible. Zinc deficiency can also be a cause of male sterility. However, unlike vitamin E, in cases of sterility due to zinc deficiency, once adequate zinc is supplied in the diet, fertility will be restored.

How do I get rid of E.coli. in my birds?
How do you know it is making them sick? There are hundreds of different forms of E.coli, only a few of them are a problem (Enteropathogenic). Be very careful about blaming E.coli for your birds illness. If the E.coli is the problem, then special antibiotics are necessary (eg. Amoxitex). The best thing you can do to control E.coli in an aviary is to have a good hygiene program. Bacteria cannot survive in clean environments.

Can I use Amtyl during the breeding season?
Amtyl should NOT be used with chicks in the nest. If the breeder is fighting a bacterial infection, the infection will bring the hen out of condition far faster than any antibiotic.

Should I treat my birds with Probotic after I use an antibiotic?
Some birds should be given a Probotic AFTER an antibiotic. All antibiotics will affect the normal gut bacteria to some degree. Probotic is composed of freeze dried bacteria which are normally found in the intestines. When added to water these bacteria come "alive" and return the conditions in the gut to normal. I recommend that a 5-7 day course of Probiotic be given after any antibiotic therapy. Because Probotic contains normal live bacteria, it MUST NOT be added to containing antibiotics (Amoxitex) or antiseptics (Sparkle) as these will kill the good bacteria in Probotic.

Why did the hatchlings die in the nest?
Any of the following could be the reason; excessive heat or cold; male’s excessive nesting drive; fouling of the nest; nest invaded by ants or lice; night frights; immature parents; lethal factor due to genetic make-up; interference from humans, vermin, other birds or predators; insufficient or inappropriate diet. In my experience I have found the latter again to be the most common reason. However, if you are loosing your babies at the 10 to 14 days consider the information given on coccidiosous.

Why is my bird plucking her feathers?
Some females will pluck their breast as a natural part of the nest construction process. However, this is not the case with Gouldians. They do not use feathers in their nests. Boredom, stress, parasite infection or dietary deficiency are the most common reasons.

pluckingA viewer sent in this photo of her female with the following comments: " days after I placed my Gouldian together with her new mate, she started to pull her feathers out. I thought she was looking for nesting material but there was material in her cage. After six days she looked like this. I removed Her from the male and she quit. Her feathers have all grown back."

Why is my bird plucking her feathers?
The scaly face mite (Knemidokoptes pilae) is found primarily in Parakeets (Budgerigars), though it can turn up in canaries and finches, as well. The mite is found on the corner of the beak on either side, the vent and the legs, and can be diagnosed by identifying the clinical sign of their presence on the bird. This mite burrows in the shin, causing a powdery appearance. If you look closely, you will see a honey-comb pattern of holes in the skin, representing burrows and tunnels caused by the mites. See treatment for Scaly Face Mite.

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