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My bird keeping dreams almost over

fluff86

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9/15/22
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Yep... I might not ever be able to keep birds because they do not live for very long in my home.

I don't use any toxins such as household cleaners, air fresheners or burn incense. I don't smoke or use non stick cookware.

When I got Zebra finches, one died a month later and I didn't think much of it until another one got sick and died, then a 3rd one got sick and died and so on. Chicks wouldn't thrive most died. I had success with 3 fledglings but they have become sick all the zebra finches started to itch non stop for a long time, Some more died, they all have ruff dull plumage and sleep a lot with there heads tucked I treated them with S76 ivermectin that did nothing. I also used food grade diatomaceous earth for nest boxes and to put on the floor of the aviary... no changes birds continued to itch excessively. I also tried anti-parasite spray, that did nothing and birds were still itching falling ill and dying.

I checked there droppings as it runny and watery sometimes yellow and creamy which would suggest worms or bacterial infection in the intestines and that I need a wormer that can treat tape worms. The birds are still itching and still sleeping with there heads tucked.

Nobody else has ever had these issues, only me from what I can find on the web. The whole situation has been utterly depressing and frustrating. I worked so hard building the aviary collecting and buying materials, I thought I was going to have my own bit of paradise where I could relax and watch my birds and escape the stresses of life but instead I get misery death and despair.

I'm making this my last attempt to keep zebra finches. If the wormer doesn't work, that is me done with finches. The only other thing that could be killing my birds is neighboring toxins from other apartments and if its not that then its a mystery.
 
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Xoetix

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Have you had a necropsy done at any point?

Actually if you’re living in an apartment building, that could explain quite a bit. For example, you know how you can easily smell everything your neighbors cook? That also means airborne toxins can come to you.
 

fluff86

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Have you had a necropsy done at any point?

Actually if you’re living in an apartment building, that could explain quite a bit. For example, you know how you can easily smell everything your neighbors cook? That also means airborne toxins can come to you.
Sadly this does sound like the issue and I have a horrible feeling my gut that it is that.

I will see if its possible to have a necropsy done, but if its too much then I'll leave it.
 

Sparkles99

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I wonder about previous pesticide use in your home.
 

fluff86

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I wonder about previous pesticide use in your home.
Back in 2009 there was a break out of bedbugs and pest control came out to eliminate them. This was a long time ago and the bed and mattress was chucked away. Other than that no pesticides have been used previously. I had a pigeon nesting on my balcony a couple of years ago and it once got inside. I don't think any of those hold any relevance as it was over 10 years ago and there are people who keep zebra finches outside that are exposed to other wild birds like pigeons and there are no issues.

I often smell neighbors cooking or there cigarette smoke, sometimes I would smell other things, they might be using non stick cookware as well and using scented candles among other things that might not be detected by smell but toxins detectable to birds. Its just something I'm going to have to come to terms with. I'm not going to be able to keep birds. I might get away with keeping doves or pigeons as an alternative but I'd much rather have canaries and finches. Pigeons are a lot more hardy and can be kept on the balcony... or maybe there is another alternative animal I can keep in my aviary that resembles a bird... it would be a shame to dismantle the aviary. I can't think of much I could use it for. Its going to take a while for things to sink in that I'm going to have to scrap my dreams of having birds. I guess I just have to see what happens but its likely my home will never be habitable for birds.
 

Shezbug

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Were all the birds gained from the same source? Did you have a necropsy done? What materials were used to make your aviary? Has all your bird food been gained from the same source? Have you had any of your birds vet checked when ill?

Those are all questions that I do not need the answers for, they may just help you rule in or out some more reasons for the losses.

If I recall correctly, some of your birds had been unwell or terribly itchy? for quite some time before you obtained parasite treatment, if I am correct then it could be something as simple as timing being more likely the issue than anything else- Once birds start going down hill they have been health compromised for some time longer than we knew about and are likely more unwell than we realise which is why it is so important to jump on any sign of health disturbance and get to a vet asap.
 

MnGuy

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Check for radon.

There are a lot of things out of your control in an apartment complex, though.

If another bird passes, get a necropsy. It’s the only way to answer your questions about why this keeps happening.

Good luck.
 

flyzipper

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Check for radon.
This, plus -- I would do a full test for VOCs, mold, EPA HAPs, etc.
Testing the tap water would also be on my list.

It's important whether it's your own home (so you can remediate) or a rental (so you have proof to break the lease).
 

Pat H

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All the above...
Q-- what floor are you on/ location in relation to other apts? Have you ever asked neighbors if they use teflon, etc? When you smell something cooking, try finding out which apt coming from-- might lead you to where leaks/ air entry points are.
I'm so sorry you [and the birds] are going thru this--- NO ONE wants that to happen!
 

fluff86

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All birds were obtained from the same breeder, I'm on the top floor and I often get smells of all sorts entering my property. I haven't asked any of the neighbors what they use they might think I'm a bit odd me asking what cookware they are using. I know some like there air fresheners, the plug in type and also the sprays. Unfortunately the situation is out of my control and as nothing is working, birds are still itching like crazy until they start sleeping and tucking there heads before death. Its going to be an endless cycle of despair until there are none left. A vet wouldn't be able to fix this.

Finch owners would have encountered a sick finch or two but with simple treatment there able to get them better again, there are all kinds of medications out there like wormer, S76 Ivermectin, diatomaceous earth, antibiotics for more serious infections. If none of those work then its clearly bad air... toxins... further more as I'm the only person who is encountering this issue it confirms it.

Another thing to confirm this... a neighbor had bought two budgies completely healthy about a year old. Two months later they start itching and plucking themselves screaming and showing signs of distress. The budgies died after several months.
 

fluff86

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Check for radon.

There are a lot of things out of your control in an apartment complex, though.

If another bird passes, get a necropsy. It’s the only way to answer your questions about why this keeps happening.

Good luck.
Thanks I didn't even know about radon... I will get that looked into maybe there is a detector I can buy to test whats in the air. I'm expected to lose quite a few birds this time including the 3 fledglings. I'll bring all the dead birds to an avian vet if any are available.
 

Shezbug

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All birds were obtained from the same breeder, I'm on the top floor and I often get smells of all sorts entering my property. I haven't asked any of the neighbors what they use they might think I'm a bit odd me asking what cookware they are using. I know some like there air fresheners, the plug in type and also the sprays. Unfortunately the situation is out of my control and as nothing is working, birds are still itching like crazy until they start sleeping and tucking there heads before death. Its going to be an endless cycle of despair until there are none left. A vet wouldn't be able to fix this.

Finch owners would have encountered a sick finch or two but with simple treatment there able to get them better again, there are all kinds of medications out there like wormer, S76 Ivermectin, diatomaceous earth, antibiotics for more serious infections. If none of those work then its clearly bad air... toxins... further more as I'm the only person who is encountering this issue it confirms it.

Another thing to confirm this... a neighbor had bought two budgies completely healthy about a year old. Two months later they start itching and plucking themselves screaming and showing signs of distress. The budgies died after several months.
I really hope you can find the cause. I’m sorry you’re experiencing so many deaths.
 

fluff86

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Since I gave them some wormer there has been some small improvements but these are only small improvements, some of them are looking brighter and not so puffed up however this doesn't mean they are cured because many are still sick and the itching is still present. Every time I've been positive I always speak too soon with the cycle continuing to happen. The 3 fledglings I'm most definitely going to lose. To think they have only been in the world for a month just become independent from the parents are now on there way to death. Its depressing to say the least.

I may contact the RSPCA who are an animal rescue charity here in the UK as its an emergency, they might be able to help. An avian vet isn't the most easy to get a hold off as there are not many and often very busy and charge a hell of a lot so I can only do whats within my means.

The tap water I've ticked off the list as not being an issue as I always boiled it the night before given it to them in the mornings.

The bird seed was something I was thinking about because you just never know, it could contain a type of seed that wasn't good. I checked the reviews and they are all good so its unlikely, however I have decided to change the brand of birdseed I'm feeding them.

Since the wormer I have not been feeding them anymore eggs although its more for the canaries, the finches do enjoy the eggs. These are cheap eggs and could contain traces of salmonella so I have taken them off as a precaution for the time being. As they are always cooked eggs its low chance.

I will wait a few more days to see if there have been any further improvements since the wormer otherwise I'll order some antibiotic meds for them. Its very possible they could be suffering from a bacterial infection in there intestines. That is the last thing to check before looking towards toxins in the air.
 
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fluff86

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Failure to thrive is not an uncommon thing in finches when they have an infection. This is normally treated with a antibiotic bird medicine, one thing I've not tried yet.

The constant itching is interesting because I can not find a symptom for this. The constant itching has to tie in with something that isn't parasites.

Do birds itch when they are exposed to toxins?
 

fluff86

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I've just found some info on the itching...

Toxins can cause "rashes" or itchy skin and breathing problems, also. Birds are exceedingly susceptible to toxin poisoning, Toxins can be ingested during preening when particles land on the feathers. They can also be breathed in. Some of the most common household toxins include:


  1. Teflon™
  2. Aerosol Sprays
  3. Cleaning Supplies With Odors
  4. Avocado’s
  5. Heavy Metals
  6. Cigarette Smoke & Nicotine
  7. Marijuana Smoke

This is not an exhaustive list.

Itching can also be a vitamin deficiency or dry air. I have a lot of dry air but also the toxins could be a contributing factor. Sometimes the birds beak will be open like they have something in there mouth. It is looking more like toxins.
 

fluff86

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Just an update... All my finches were at deaths door and since I had given them wormer they all bounced back again and even the very poorly ones have bounced back so that is progress... however I'm not out of the woods just yet. Some still have green diarrhea so this could indicate a second infection and the itching is still present but other than that they are looking much brighter and not sleeping and no head tucking........... for now.

I've also put them on some calcium and D3 supplements due to the lack of natural light and short day light hours as its winter here in the UK.

I will be patient and finish the course of the wormer which was given to them for two days then it needs to be repeated in 21 days, at the same time I don't want the second infection advancing to where I'm back to square one. I will order some antibiotics which should cover a range of infections in finches but I wont give them any just yet.

I am closer than ever before with hitting that eureka moment.
 
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