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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 23849
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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This morning my Zebra Finch is sitting in a corner with his

Customer Question

This morning my Zebra Finch is sitting in a corner with his head turned and appeRs to be shaking.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the bird's name and age?
Customer: He is called George and is roughly a year old.
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about George?
Customer: No, he is normally very happy and sings a lot.
Submitted: 11 days ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 days ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 days ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. It's important to note that once a finch acts ill it's already quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. George's symptoms are important symptoms but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder.

I understand that I'm quite limited by how much I can test and treat a finch but I might presumptively administer a broad spectrum antibiotic directly into his mouth. Unfortunately, these antibiotics are no longer available in the UK without having them prescribed by a vet.

Until George can be attended to, please heat up his environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of his cage. If he appears weakened remove his perches and put his food and water on the bottom of the cage along with him. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to his water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in his water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.

Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has George's diet consisted of, please? Finches are omnivores and eat quite a variety of food in the wild. Seeds should compose less than 20% of his diet. A diet of mainly seed and nuts has excessive fat, carbohydrates, and phosphorus; marginal protein; adequate vitamin E, and are deficient in amino acids, calcium, available phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, iron, vitamins A, D3 (necessary for efficient absorption of calcium), K, and B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, and available niacin. Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: or here: should be fed as well as hard boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.