Our new pair of blue caps in their quarantine cage
(September 2002). Quarantine is not fun, but it is
really important for ensuring the safety of your existing
of the most difficult things for me to do is to acquire a new
bird or birds and lock them up by themselves in quarantine cages.
However, this is an absolute necessity if you don't want to
endanger the lives of your existing birds. Being an aviary enthusiast
like I am, I get depressed seeing a little bird who was meant
to fly and be free, be confined within the walls of a quarantine
cage. But my existing birds are my number one priority, and
some care must be taken to ensure the new bird is not carrying
an illness that hasn't expressed itself yet.
are lots of different views regarding quarantine, particularly
with regard to length of time quarantined and preventative treatment
provided. At minimum, I quarantine new birds for a month. Many
people, especially those with large flocks, quarantine for up
to 3 months. (Vote in the Finch
Owner's Survey and tell us how long you quarantine for).
If I have any doubts whatsoever, I do not introduce the bird
to my flock.
source of the bird should be taken into account when determining
the length of quarantine. One must be most cautious when acquiring
birds from a pet store, particularly from large chain pet stores
that don't specialize in birds. The pet store frequently cannot
tell you anything about the source of the bird. They take in
birds from many sources and if any of those sources had been
in contact with illness, all the birds at the store in the same
environment are at risk. Therefore, I recommend a longer quarantine
for pet shop birds to be on the safe side. Please do not try
to skimp on the quarantine when obtaining birds in this way
- I've heard way too many sad stories result from this. Sometimes,
when illness is introduced in this way, it takes a beginner
a while to realize that a newly acquired bird was the cause,
as it can take more than a month for symptoms to start appearing,
making cases of illness and deaths appear unrelated because
they are staggered apart.
this time, I do not treat my birds preventatively without the
advice of a veterinarian because I am not too keen on indiscriminately
treating birds for things they most likely do not have. This
may be a mistake on my part, but since I don't have a large
flock and I don't introduce new birds very often (I don't breed
and therefore only need new birds to add to my flock and not
for genetic diversity), I may not have learned this lesson yet.
If you are interested in using preventative treatment during
quarantine, Carol Heesen from Birds2Grow
has written the article Quarantine
Procedures, which includes links to the products which can
be purchased from her site. She also sells a quarantine
kit, which bundles her recommended treatments in a package
at a discount. I don't mean to endorse this product, since I
have never tried it, I only mean to inform others of its existence.
If you would like to know more, some participants of Finchworld's
Forum claim to use these products. Posting a question there
will probably elicit some useful information from others who
actually have experience with them.
See my article How to Do Your Own Fecal
Smears for some valuable information on how to screen for
illness from your own home. This technique is especially useful
if you prefer not to exercise a preventative treatment quarantine
program. By doing fecal smears on newly acquired birds from
your own home, you may be able to detect some of the things
people treat preventatively for, include worms and protozoa.
You can also detect things that people do not usually treat
preventatively for, such as Candida and Avian Gastric Yeast
(Megabacteria). Since learning to do fecal smears from home,
I have kept a running tab of illness found in newly acquired
birds. So far, of eight new birds - all visibily healthy, two
had Avian Gastric Yeast infections, and one of the two had a
slight protozoal infection (only one organism found in the fecal
sample). All problems were easily eradicated during quarantine
because of early detection.
the absence of a standard preventative treatment program, one
could take the new bird to an avian veterinarian for a health
check. Also, many places offer a guarantee on the health of
a new bird provided it is taken to a veterinarian within a given
period of time.
the flipside, I also wouldn't introduce a new bird to the aviary
if I have doubts about the health of an existing bird. I would
first have a vet check out the suspicious bird to make sure
it isn't carrying anything contagious (and obviously to treat
him if he is indeed ill). If the bird is sick, I will wait to
introduce the new bird until the sick bird has a clean bill
of health and enough time has passed to ensure me that no other
bird has picked up the illness.
Previous to return to the Dealing with Illness page | Click
Next to read about our experience with illness