10 Most Common Health Problems In Finches

Finches can be active and entertaining birds, but like any pet, they have the potential to get sick even if you take the best care of them. If you want to make sure your finches get the care they need, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with some of the more common health problems known to affect these birds.

Below you will find a list of the 10 most common health problems in finches, and here you will receive an overview of these conditions, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Some of the common conditions known to affect finches may include the following:

  1. Air sac mites
  2. Aspergillosis
  3. Bumblefoot
  4. Coccidiosis
  5. Egg binding
  6. Feather cysts
  7. Loss of feathers
  8. Overgrown nails
  9. Scaly face mites
  10. Tapeworms

Air sac mites

Respiratory problems are not uncommon in pet birds and one of the most common respiratory problems is related to a parasitic infection known as air sac mites. Air sac mites can infiltrate the entire respiratory tract of the bird and the severity of the infection can vary greatly.

health issues in finchesBirds with mild infections may not show any signs, but severe infections can produce symptoms including shortness of breath, hissing or clicking, open-mouthed breathing, excessive salivation, and tail wagging.

Finches with air sac mites often stop singing and many exhibits reduced activity and puffy feathers.

Unfortunately, diagnosing a live bird with air sac mites can be difficult. In some cases, the mites may be visible to the naked eye, although a microscope is usually needed to make a diagnosis after a tracheal smear.

This disease can be transmitted through close contact with an infected bird and through airborne particles. It can also be transmitted through contaminated food or drinking water, so it is important to quarantine your finches from other birds if they show signs of air sac mites.


There are some treatment options available for air sac mites, but you need to be very careful when choosing the right treatment. The signs indicating air sac mites overlap with a number of other diseases, so you need to make sure you have an accurate diagnosis before starting treatment.

For example, vitamin A deficiency presents with symptoms very similar to those of air sac mites. Medications are available to treat the disease, although the dosage can be complicated and many birds die from air sac mites.


Another common respiratory problem seen in pet birds like finches is called aspergillosis. This is a disease caused by a fungus and is a slow-growing infection that can cause serious damage to tissues throughout the body.

Unfortunately, there is little physical evidence of a problem until the disease has progressed and damage to internal organs becomes severe. This disease is not only difficult to detect, but it can also be very difficult to treat and cure.

Aspergillosis can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

This fungus can be found in many environments, but it typically doesn’t become a problem until the bird’s immune system is compromised by something else.

Chronic stress, poor breeding, and other respiratory irritants can increase a bird’s risk of contracting this yeast infection. Once the bird is sick, it can take a long time to cure the infection.

Because aspergillosis often occurs without symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose. Your vet will likely recommend a complete blood count (CBC), an X-ray to check for lesions, and a tracheal lavage to detect the presence of the fungus in the respiratory tract.


Treatment options include oral or intravenous antifungal medications that must be taken over a long period of time. Unfortunately, treatment is often ineffective unless the bird’s immune system is very strong.

However, this is quite rare because the disease tends to attack birds with compromised immune systems. If you can cure the disease, it is important to maintain good hygiene and a healthy diet to prevent the disease from recurring or spreading.


Bumblefoot is a condition that can occur in any species of bird, but it is more common in captive species than in wild species.

In many cases, the first symptom to be seen is swelling of the toes, feet, or joints, often accompanied by lameness. The affected bird may also not want to land or perch normally and may not be able to grasp the perch with both legs.

There are three stages of bumblefoot disease beginning with the first stage where calluses or pink abrasions appear on the feet. These calluses are most commonly caused by perches that are too rough or too hard.

The second stage of the disease consists of the appearance of sores or lesions that can become inflamed or infected.

During the third stage, the sores may turn dark blue or black and the affected foot and/or toes may become severely distorted and permanent damage may occur.


Treatment for bumblefoot is multidisciplinary. You should thoroughly clean the cage of your finches, including all perches and toys. Remove rough or dirty hangers and make sure the ones that remain are adequate in texture and circumference.

In cases where an infection has occurred, antibiotics or ointments may be prescribed. Soaking the affected foot in an Epsom salt bath can also help.


Coccidiosis is a type of parasitic infection caused by a protozoan parasite known as Eimeria. When the parasite is transferred from one bird to another, it settles in the host’s intestinal tract, where it reproduces rapidly.

This can lead to swelling in the intestines and intestinal bleeding. In cases where the condition is left untreated, it can lead to damage to the intestine, which can contribute to nutrient malabsorption.

Although coccidiosis is most often seen in wild birds, it can also be easily transmitted to pet birds. The disease is more likely to develop in cages where proper hygiene is not maintained – the parasite tends to thrive in poor and cramped conditions when the bird’s immune system is already weakened by stress or some other type of illness or injury.

Unfortunately, many coccidiosis-infected birds show no symptoms until the condition progresses and the bird becomes very stressed. Some of the symptoms of this condition can include weight loss, diarrhea, bloody stools, dehydration, and lethargy.


The most common treatment option is the use of antibiotics such as sulfonamide. The cage should also be thoroughly cleaned and kept clean to avoid reinfestation.

Egg binding

Egg attachment is a condition that can occur in any female bird and is very dangerous and often fatal. This condition occurs when the egg does not pass through the reproductive system at the normal rate.

Female finches can develop this condition regardless of the presence of a male, as the birds still lay eggs, whether or not they are fertilized.

Another dangerous and related condition is dystocia: this occurs when an obstruction prevents the female from laying the egg.

There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of your finch’s egg binding. Egg binding is particularly common in small birds such as finches and repeated reproduction can also be a factor.

Egg binding is common in very young and very old birds, in addition to that it can be affected by problems of malnutrition or poor health in general.

Egg binding is incredibly serious and often fatal, so it’s important that you be able to recognize the signs.

Symptoms of egg binding can include abdominal straining, tail bobbing, drooping wings, depression, loss of appetite, leg paralysis, distended abdomen, shortness of breath, and sudden death. If you suspect that the eggs are stuck, seek immediate veterinary attention for your finch.

Feather cysts

In the same way that humans can develop ingrown hairs, finches can develop feather cysts. Feather cysts form when the growing feather is malformed within the follicle (the part under the skin); It occurs when the growing feather cannot protrude through the skin, so it curls into the follicle.

This produces an elongated or oval-shaped swelling that can develop anywhere on the wing, although they are most common near the primary feathers.

finch health problems

Finches can also develop feather cysts on their bodies. Feather cysts may be small and minor at first, but as they grow they can accumulate a yellowish-white keratin material that fills the cyst. Cysts can develop as a result of several factors including bacterial and viral infections, trauma, malnutrition, self-mutilation, and other problems related to feather growth.


If the feather cyst is very small, it can sometimes be squeezed out. However, this is not the ideal treatment because the cyst can reform. Feather cysts have the potential to bleed profusely, so they are best handled by a qualified avian veterinarian. Surgical removal may be the only option in some cases.

Feather loss

In finches and other related species, stress is the most common cause of feather loss. When your finch becomes stressed due to an aggressive cage mate, poor hygiene, or an unhealthy diet, it may start to pluck its feathers.

Another possible cause of feather loss is parasite infection. Some birds also experience feather loss as a result of iodine deficiency, although this is more common in Gouldian finches than other species.

If the loss of feathers is limited to the head, it is most likely due to aggression from other birds or a mite infection.

Overgrown Nails

Finches kept in captivity need to have their nails trimmed every now and then because they won’t naturally wear out as much as they would in the wild.

If finches’ nails grow too long, it could affect their ability to perch normally, and the nails could grow so large that they begin to curve and can pierce the skin on the feet. Overgrown nails in finches can also get stuck in nest or bedding material; in extreme cases, the bird could be killed if it gets stuck hanging upside down.

The best way to prevent nails from growing too long on finches is to check them once a week. Some species of finches will need to have their nails trimmed more often than others. For example, zebra finches have nails that grow very slowly, so they won’t need to be trimmed as often as the nails of a society finch.

When trimming finch nails, use sharp scissors and simply cut off the sharp tip. Don’t cut the nail too short or you could sever the quick (the blood supply to the nail); this could hurt the bird and bleed profusely. If this happens, dip the nail in styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

Scaly face mites

Mites belonging to the genus Knemidokoptes are commonly known as “scaly mites” and can affect the legs and face of multiple species of birds. When scaly mites affect the legs, it is sometimes called Tassel Foot.

Scaly mites are particularly common in small birds such as finches and generally cause scaly, crisp, white, or gray lesions on the featherless skin of the beak, legs, and feet. Foot injuries are particularly common in finches, although they can also appear around the eyes and vent.

Parasites are known as scaly mites usually spend their entire life cycle in the bird they inhabit. Mites burrow into the top layer of the skin and form tunnels through which they can travel.

Mites can be transmitted from one bird to another through direct contact; they can also be transferred to non-feathered chicks. If the bird has a weakened immune system, it has a greater susceptibility to contracting the disease.


There are several treatment options available for scaly mites, but the most effective treatment is ivermectin. This treatment is usually given at 10-day intervals for 2 to 6 treatments.

Ivermectin can be applied directly to the skin or it can be taken orally or injected. In addition to the ivermectin treatment, the cage and all accessories must be cleaned and disinfected.


Tapeworms are a type of internal parasite that most often affects birds that are kept outdoors. These parasites can be transmitted to your finches if they eat an infected insect or by contact with contaminated feces.

Once the tapeworm reaches the bird’s digestive tract, it begins to bleed nutrients, causing the bird to develop malnutrition. As the tapeworm grows and multiplies, it can also cause a physical blockage of the intestinal tract that can be fatal to the bird.

Unfortunately, many birds affected by tapeworms do not show any external symptoms until the malnutrition becomes quite advanced. In some cases, however, if you look closely, tapeworms can be seen in bird droppings.

A fecal exam is the best method to diagnose a tapeworm infection and once your bird is diagnosed, your vet will prescribe an antiparasitic medication. These medications can be administered orally or by injection, depending on the severity of the condition.