South East Queensland Zebra 
Finch Society Inc.

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Posted on April 12, 2016 at 8:35 PM

Author: Peter James

We have all had birds die in our aviaries. Usually a bird will look sick for a while before it deteriorates from its ailment and dies.

However occasionally a bird that looks fit and healthy can be found dead on the aviary floor. We will discuss the main reasons for this scenario occurring.

The most common reason is a broken neck. This happens when the bird panics and flies at great speed into the wire, perch or some other obstacle. It hits the barrier with such force it breaks its neck. When holding the dead bird upright and the head falls well back and side to side it has a broken neck- the cause of death.

If the neck is OK run your finger along the bird’s breastbone. If it feels sharp then the bird is suffering from a disorder called “going light”. This condition is caused by starvation. In some cases the bird may eat constantly however for some reason it cannot digest the food properly. There can be a number of causes for this condition and it is untreatable – the bird dies.

Next check its vent – is it soiled from droppings. This is usually caused by a foreign bacteria that has gained access to the bird’s digestive system. The condition is treatable if discovered early. If not treated the bird will die.

Lastly check the bird has both its feet. Butcher birds, Owls and Magpies will fly onto the wire of the cage to frighten the birds. Invariably some will land on the wire in their panic and the attacking bird will grab their leg and rip it off. The bird will bleed to death.

If there is no obvious reason for the death you may have to consider poisoning. A common cause is mice defecating in your water and seed. Mice are the number 1 reason for breeding failures.

If you have a number of birds dying over a short period of time then there is a serious problem in your aviaries. The best way for a solution is to catch up an infected bird and take it to a vet that deals in avian medicine. Usually the bird is sacrificed, cut open to inspect the organs and put tissue samples under the microscope.



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