Monday, November 24, 2014

MITES ON BIRDS - A Question & Answer

Flame and Fuchsia, Rosy Bourke Parakeets

We get many questions and I try to answer every one. I'm remiss, however, about posting them here. Someday I'll go collect more and post others. Meanwhile, this one arrived today.

Duchess and her daughters, Lady Gouldian finches.

Hi Gail,
I have a Bourke's parakeet with scaly face mites, a.k.a. knemidokoptes infestation. He was diagnosed today at the veterinarian. She put him, and my two others Bourke's on Stronghold medicine.
I give one dose to each bird today, then after two weeks I give the second dose. She's concerned he isn't getting enough vitamin A, so I'm adding a liquid multivitamin on their food. The peas they like the best so I drop some on top of those. They have more dandruff than usual and have been molting (or losing) feathers. This is my first experience with mites! Have you had this problem before? Any suggestions?
Thank you,
Hello Melissa,
Years ago I leaned into a nest box to inspect the babies and later noticed a tickle at my forehead. I looked in mirror and saw teensy black spots moving there. Ick! I'd probably let my head touch the edge of the box's lid when I opened it. I looked at the nest box closely and sure enough, that's where they came from... there were lots of them on the box lid. I was not happy.
No mites on these healthy Rosy Bourke Parakeet babies.
Unfortunately, the vets in our area don't know anything about birds, only dogs and cats or one or two treat horses and cows. Our closest avian vet is many, many hours away, although I made the trip once and she is very nice ... she's the only avian vet I know of in our whole state. :-(
After careful investigation, I ordered a concentrated mite spray on the internet. Our Grange had some kinds, but they didn't have good reviews, whereas this one did. When it arrived I diluted per directions and put it in a small bottle that had had eye glass cleaner in it. It gave a fine mist. Used a directed, it was touted to not hurt baby birds in the nest. I removed all food and water, then sprayed everyone, even those in the nests. Cleaned the cages and waited a short while for everything to be very dry before returning food and water.
Fortunately, it took care of the mites and I've never seen any since. What kind of mites they were, I've no clue. I still have the concentrate in case it's ever needed again.
Two things I'd recommend for your birds if you're not already doing it. Buy fresh Kale and give it frequently. We chop ours up and put it in empty lids. We store the extra leaves in the fridge for up to a week, and can chop a little every day for the birds. It's rich in Vitamin A.
Maybe even more valuable are the rabbit salt blocks. They have iodine and Vitamin D. The birds will use them as needed just as they use cuttlebone. A lifetime breeder, who gave talks to bird specialists all over the world before he decided he was too old to keep traveling, told me about this. Since I added them a few years ago, my birds' production of babies has increased ... that's an indication of good health. The salt blocks will damage wire cages, so keep each in a plastic dish or lay them on newspaper like I do.
The dander and molting could be expected from a mite infestation. Once they’re gone, and given a healthy diet, your birds should gradually return to their former splendor.
Peace & Blessings,

This was covered in an earlier blog post last April. Here is the text from that post:
"Mites transfer to other birds easily.  I assume that, like cat lice, they can't survive on people or other animals.
I had mites occur once to my flock years ago. I bought a mite spray at our Grange that didn't work well (it was 8in1). Also, it was necessary to avoid the head and eyes. It said nothing about what to do for babies in the nest, and I had many of them at the time. 

What DID work was "Avian Insect Liquidator" by VETAFARM. It's a concentrate, and when mixed according to directions, it's approved for spraying into a nest box, even on newly hatched chicks. It costs more for a bottle, but is a concentrate and makes a lot. I mixed the concentrate into a tiny spray bottle because it only takes a small amount. I reused a spray bottle that previously had eyeglass cleaner in it. It is small and emits a fine spray.  
That mixture worked wonders right away. I had to order it online, but it came quickly. It was ordered through All Bird Products, Inc. The 100ml bottle makes two liters and I still have the concentrate these many years later.  I've never had a reoccurrence of the problem."

Mites sap a bird's energy and are harmful, especially to baby birds and should be taken care of as quickly as feasible.  

A young Opaline Fallow Pink Rosy Bourke Parakeet.
Peace & Blessings!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hand Feeding Baby Rosy Bourke Parakeets, and a Link to Video with Tips & Tricks

Hand feed, or allow parents to feed?

Four newly hatched Rosy Bourke Parakeets.
Best to wait and allow the parents to feed them
until the young are about two weeks of age.

These two hand fed birds are learning to eat on their own.
Offer lots of choices for them, especially spray millet.

Bourke Parakeets are easier than most birds to hand tame while young. Even those left in a cage all the time will become quite friendly, coming up to the cage bars when you talk to them.

If you can hand feed your baby birds, however, they will become remarkable pets, sweeter and more affectionate than those that are hand tamed. It is labor intensive and requires a great deal of care.

Click below for Video on You Tube of me hand feeding Rosy Bourke babies:  

Two hand fed baby Rosy Bourke Parakeets.

Mother Rosy Bourke in nest box with her youngsters.

Four Baby Rosy Bourkes being parent fed.