Two quite common diseases in parrotfinches

campylobacteriosis and coccidiosis
I am not a vet.   These notes are from Tony Jochem’s book, “Breeding Estridid Finches” (with his permission) plus my own experiences.
I strongly recommend this book which can be purchased online at
or by emailing T. Jochem.

Campylobacteriosis is caused by the campylobacter bacterium which is found in the intestines of not only poultry but humans as well.

Symptoms in Estrildid finches include the bird sitting with its head under its wing and heavy yellow/ whiteish droppings.

Youngsters are often thrown out of the nest with full crops within a week or so of hatching.

Common causes are contaminated soft food, eg eggs not boiled properly, or egg shells which are not microwaved or oven treated for long enough.
To use boiled eggs in soft food, they must be boiled for a minimum of seven minutes.

It can also be spread by other birds which are moulting and rearing.

We also pass it on by not washing our hands properly before feeding and handling birds.

I use Erythromycin to treat, which I give this for five days and then provide a multivitamin for the next two days.

I go on to repeat this for one more week.

Coccidia (Isospara canaria)
Coccidiosis is a common disease faced by bird keepers.

It affects not only estrildid finches but also pigeons and poultry.

Conclusive diagnosis of this disease is the presence of oocytes in the droppings.   The droppings are a dark brown colour and sometimes whole seed can be found.

The disease is spread by direct contact with infected faeces.
Symptoms - very sleepy birds which spend a lot of time around the seed pots pecking but not really eating.   They lose weight even though they appear to be eating frequently.

Treatment for coccidiosis is E.S.B.3 which should be given as directed.

Everything in the cage and everything that may have come into contact with the diseased bird must be cleaned to stop coccidiosis spreading.   If possible cages, their fronts and utensils should be steam cleaned.

Avoiding disease - care when feeding fruit
Most parrotfinches love fresh fruit including figs, pears and apple.

However, this can be a very common source of infection in their cages.

The birds take a small piece of fresh fruit to the perch and hold it in their foot and eat it.
They then wipe excess moisture and fruit from their beaks onto the perch.   Bacteria and mould will grow rapidly in the unseen fruit residue left on the perch leading to infection.

To avoid this, if fresh fruit is used, perches must be changed and utensils and the cages cleaned very regularly.

Quarantine  - how and when