Some people have
found to their dismay and cost that although newly bought birds that they put through quarantine looked healthy, the new birds
caused birds of certain species of their stock to become ill and even die when they were mixed together. That is what birds
known as disease carriers can end up doing to your stock.
Mixing newly bought birds with your established stock is fraught with
danger, no matter how healthy the new birds look even after any number of days in quarantine.
The best way to explain to beginners what disease carriers are all
about is by giving them a real true life example. The following is a true story.
A pair of Black faced Fire finches were bought and placed in quarantine.
Afterwards due to the fact that they looked really healthy, they were released in an aviary containing Pintail parrot finches,
Bamboo Parrot finches, Gouldians, Munias and Waxbills. In three days all the Parrot finches and Gouldians were dead.
Autopsies revealed that they had died of Avian Pox and that the pair of Black faced Fire finches were carrying the virus even
though they were not showing any signs of illness.
The parrot finches and the Gouldians were not genetically immune to
Avian Pox and they perished. The Munias and Waxbills and the Black faced Fire finches were immune and they survived.
Disease carriers are birds which appear healthy and vigorous but which
harbor or carry pathogens that other individuals of the same species or other species are not immune to or only partially
The most incredible aspect about this story is that the aviculturist
in question was a very experienced finch breeder and his wife was a veterinary science lecturer at a university. And still
this simple mistake was made. All too often even experienced and educated people forget all about the danger of disease carriers
and are completely taken in by the apparent health of the new birds that they have bought due to their activity level or tight
One reason why I had birds of several species fall ill in my free flying
bird room was because I made this mistake of adding newly bought quarantined stock that seemed healthy but turned out to be
vulnerable to disease carriers in my established stock. If you want to know more about the subject of disease carriers and
how to avoid the dangers, I strongly recommend that you read my article on this subject. In it, I describe a way of determining
whether any newly bought birds are disease carriers to birds in your stock.
After this episode, peace reigned in my free flying bird room for about
two to three years, during which, Blackcrowned waxbills, Blue billed firefiinches, Golden song sparrows, Yellow winged pytilias
and Gouldians bred for me and had healthy juveniles. But after this time, I bought a new African finch species called
Purple Grenadiers and quarantined the birds as I normally did in a separate room. After quarantine, the birds seemed healthy
but slightly fluffed.
Due to a house move that I was making at this time, I thought it would
be safe to release the new birds with my other birds for a few days. I was distracted by other things at this time. But after
only a few days of adding the new birds to my stock of free flying birds, about fifty of the hundred birds that I had, became
ill. I cannot remember exactly after how many days so many of my birds became ill. It was about 7 days at the most. I could
not believe it. Where before the birds were the picture of health all flying about and nesting, now I had about half of them
become all fluffed up and squinting their eyes all the time and not active at all. This is what happens when finches become
The Purple Grenadiers clearly infected my stock because the fact that
they were slightly fluffed means that they were suffering from disease, when I released them with my stock. It had nothing
to do with disease carriers this time. I should have known better than to release the new birds but I was distracted at the
time as I say by other matters.
I knew that this spelt disaster because the birds were going to be
subjected to further stress due to the house move. You can well imagine my pain and disbelief but having faith in myself I
thought of using all my knowledge that I had accumulated in curing finches in order to save my birds. And against all odds
Up to this point in time, I had only tried antibiotic self-medication
on just 2 species and was also unaware of other aspects that needed to be taken into account using this technique. I now had
many birds of 6 other species fall ill and I was not at all sure whether they could cure themselves in the same way that the
birds of my first 2 species were able to. Incredibly I found that they could, just as well. It was one of the most incredible
experiences of my life seeing sick birds of several species cure themselves. And because of the great number of sick birds
that I had on my hands, I was able to perfect my technique.
© 2008 William Astor. All the text
on my website is my copyright and you may not make copies of it or post it on the Internet or email it.