Male zebra finch has trouble flying

by Nikki
(Melbourne, Australia)

He looks up to determine how to get up, you can see his tail feathers looking a bit sad

He looks up to determine how to get up, you can see his tail feathers looking a bit sad

He looks up to determine how to get up, you can see his tail feathers looking a bit sad Looks to have a few 'loose' wing feathers, too

Hi there,


Our little male zebra finch, Ronaldo, has been having trouble flying. Over the past month or so he flutters in the air but never gets more than an inch or so off the floor of his cage.

He never used to have any problems and we suspect it may have started a few months ago. We have several other finches and canaries and when our female canary was nesting she was plucking the other birds for feathers for her nest and looked to have taken all his tail feathers.

He has since grown them back (though they seem stunted to what they once were) but he still hasn't been able to fly. We've used a series of branches to help him up to the top to sleep at night, but it's particularly worrying as we have a rather tall, outdoor aviary and he has been known to thump to the floor from the higher up perches. Unfortunately we have some terrible feral cats around our neighbourhood who bother and scare the birds quite a bit, and Ronaldo falls a lot.

This happens a fair bit at night and as it's getting into the colder months here, I'm worried that he's not warm enough at night if he can't get back up. I fret pretty badly for him, especially because he seems to shiver a lot if he's down near the ground at night.

Is there any reason that you can think of why he may not be able to fly as he used to? Do you think he will fly again and if not, should we adapt the cage so he has more flat surfaces higher up or move him and his girlfriend into a smaller cage?

Hi Nikki,

Poor Ronaldo. I can't say with any certainty, but is it possible that any of the cats could have reached into the cage to hurt him. Is the cage covered in the night? If all of your other birds are unaffected, it doesn't sound like a dietary problem or a disease mechanism. He could have been so badly startled while sleeping in the dark, (night frights), that in a panic, he hurt himself trying to get to a safe place. I would get a ceramic heat lamp and hang it on his cage side near the bottom. They don't emit light. Look for them in the reptile section of your pet store. I would also cover that area of the cage so that nothing could reach in to hurt him or frighten him and I would let him live out his life naturally feeling safe and warm. I can't say whether he can or will recover and fly again, but taking these actions would allow me to feel as if I had done all I could to make him happy. Be sure to lower food and water to the bottom of the cage too.

Best Wishes, Jeanie





Comments for Male zebra finch has trouble flying

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 11, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Reply
by: Nikki

Poor Ronaldo. I can't say with any certainty, but is it possible that any of the cats could have reached into the cage to hurt him. Is the cage covered in the night? If all of your other birds are unaffected, it doesn't sound like a dietary problem or a disease mechanism. He could have been so badly startled while sleeping in the dark, (night frights), that in a panic, he hurt himself trying to get to a safe place. I would get a ceramic heat lamp and hang it on his cage side near the bottom. They don't emit light. Look for them in the reptile section of your pet store. I would also cover that area of the cage so that nothing could reach in to hurt him or frighten him and I would let him live out his life naturally feeling safe and warm. I can't say whether he can or will recover and fly again, but taking these actions would allow me to feel as if I had done all I could to make him happy. Be sure to lower food and water to the bottom of the cage too.

Hi Jeanie,

Thanks for the suggestion of a ceramic heater. I'm looking into that now.

I don't think it's possible for the cats to reach in, but we lost a few birds about a year back because the cats figured out how to open the cage door (as far as we can tell they flew out and only our canary came back.) the cage wasn't completely covered in the evening but since that's happened we cover 2/3 of the cage.

There is food and water at the bottom so that's sorted. He seems to be getting clever at jumping from branch to branch to get up higher at night and we check on him before we go to bed and can guide him to higher branches using a torch if/when he does fall down. After watching him for quite a while yesterday evening and it seems he's actually done something to his right wing, it won't flap so that might actually be the reason he's having trouble flying. I'm going to organize a vet visit soon to see what damage has been done and if it will right itself or if we have to further modify the cage to make it easier for him to get up and around.

I really appreciate the reply :) thank you!

You are very welcome! Good luck, Jeanie

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAQ & Breeding Pages.