A quick check list

By Dr   BSc, BVSc, MRCVS, MACVSc (Avian health)

The following is a short list of some of the common problems seen in canaries. It should always be remembered that management or environment flaws weaken the birds, predisposing them to disease. The provision of a clean, dry, draught-free aviary, together with good nutrition, will do much to decrease the incidence of disease. Dr Walker can be contacted at the Melbourne Bird Veterinary Clinic at 1 George St, Scoresby 3179, in Melbourne, Victoria; phone 03 9764 9000

Disease Further signs
that suggest
this problem
What the vet
will need to
reach a diagniosis
Nesting problem
1. Inside of nests stained with yellow diarrhoea of nestling, youngster stunted, increased death rate first few days of life E. coli diarrhoea Droppings, microscopic examination ,staining and/or culture Antibiotics. Neomycin. Sulfa AVS in water and soft foods (egg and biscuit, canary starter)
2. Pale, weak youngsters, hen can be found dead in nest Blood-sucking mites Crusty pinpoint feeding sites visible, particularly under the wings Recently dead or unwell nestlings Moxidectin. Spray cages with Permethrin prior to breeding
3. Nestlings dying, 10 – 20 days of age, many youngsters affected and dying Circo virus Black spot visible in abdomen, which is an enlarged gall bladder Sick or recently dead youngster for autopsy, tissue collection and histology Management – break in breeding, thorough clean of aviary, identify carrier birds
less than
1 year of age
1. Generally unwell and dying birds Atoxoplasma,( a type of coccidian) Birds usually 2 – 9 months, high mortality (up to 80%), blue spot (swollen liver) visible through abdomen A sick or recently dead bird for autopsy. Parasite eggs occasionally found in droppings Sulfachlor pyrazine reduces but does not eliminate egg shedding. Given for 5 days per week until the birds are well
Any age
Main symptom respiratory distress Pox Crusty wart-like lesions on non-feathered parts of body and/or yellow plaques inside mouth. Difficulty in breathing, high mortality rate. Appearance often diagnostic. Autopsy and histology Management. Separate birds, control insects, treat secondary diseases
Blood-sucking mites Pale and lethargic Crusty pinpoint feeding sites visible, particularly under the wings Examination of an unwell bird, or a recently dead bird. Moxidectin. Spray cages with Permethrin
Air sac mites Loss of condition, cough, sneeze, nasal discharge, unable to sing, response to treatment Dead bird for autopsy, droppings, unwell live bird. Moxidectin
Trichomoniasis (canker) a flagellate Weight loss, regurgitation, dried saliva around beak Crop flush from live bird Turbosole, Flagyl
Bacterial infection, eg Enterococcus faecalis Red watery eyes, nasal discharge Live bird for bacterial culture Antibiotics, review hygiene
Main symptom diarrhoea and weight loss Coccidiosis Huddled, fluffed and lethargic Droppings collected from sick bird in late afternoon Baycox (3ml/1L for 48 hours), protein supplements (sprouted seed, seeding grasses, soft foods)
Megabacteria Fluffed and underweight Droppings, Autopsy of recently dead bird if available Acids (citric acid 1tsp/6L), thorough clean of aviary, Amphoteracin B to sick birds. Identify genetically susceptible birds.
Salmonella (a bacteria) More prevalent in wet times of year, outside aviary, low hygiene, exposure to mice or wild bird droppings Autopsy and culture. Pooled dropping samples, checked 3 – 6 weeks after therapy to check success. Canaries do not become carriers of Salmonella (common in other birds) Antibiotics, usually Baytril. Provision of chopped greens and soft foods will help prevent dehydration, multivitamins in water, hygiene
Yersinia (a bacteria) As above Autopsy and culture As above
Other bacteria, eg E. coli Some birds may have an infection elsewhere, eg in eyes or sinus As above. As above
Chlamydia Often also have conjunctivitis and nasal discharge, low mortality Throat swab or cloacal swab or autopsy Doxycycline (Doxyvet 1tsp/2L), Baytril (1drop twice daily per bird or 10ml/1L of drinking water)
Sudden death Toxic exposure May have salivation, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing Detailed history
Starvation Blood in droppings, someone else looked after the birds
Miscellaneous Scaly face. Knemicoptes mite infection. Crusty lesions on face and legs. Appearance often diagnostic. Microscopic examination of crusts. Moxidectin (2mg/ml , 1drop to effected birds twice at a 3 week interval)