How to Examine a Finch for Health

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Many people awaken one day to find a dead finch at the bottom of the cage, and they wonder what in the world happened to their bird. I believe that birds should be physically examined every so often, in order to make sure that they are healthy. A good time to do this is while you are trimming toenails.

In order to do an examination of a small finch, we have to do more than just look at them from outside the cage. That doesn’t really give us what we need to evaluate their health. Instead, remove each bird one by one to a small cage, possibly the hospital cage. If you have a really small digital scale, place it on the floor of the small cage and use it to weigh the finch when he lights on it.

With the bird in your hand, hold him close to your ear and listen for any sounds of respiratory distress. Look carefully at his eyes, ears, and nares. When he opens his beak, but quickly for any white patches or other abnormalities. Note whether you see crusting eyes, nares that look closed over, etc. the vent area should be clean, with no broken or dirty feathers or discoloration.

examine baby bird

Be sure to look at the bottom of the feet, a common place for lesions or dermatitis. If you suspect air sac mites, wet the neck feathers and shine a light from behind to look for mites. You can see them through the neck showing as tiny dark spots. I find it helpful to use a jeweler’s loupe for this.

Turn him over, part the feathers and look at the abdomen, where you can easily see the internal organs. Many times infection shows up as red inflammation. Bleeding organs will cause a large dark purple to black mass. Touch the keel bone to determine whether it is sharper than usual.

HOlding a finch for exam

Examining your birds like this on a regular basis helps you to know what they look like when they’re not sick, for comparison. You’ll be more able to spot illnesses as they happen. It also makes it easier to quarantine the bird, as you already caught him and removed him from the environment before a crucial moment.