As far as external parasites there are only a handful that usually cause problems with pet birds. However Feather Mites and Lice can pose a problem in any aviary. Whether your finches live in an outdoor aviary or a climate controlled indoor aviary they are vulnerable to these pests.

Lice
There are several species of lice that may attack birds. Some of these lice are species specific and others are more opportunistic. All of them are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye. Microscopic evaluation of the feathering is the best way to see if lice are infesting your bird.

The lice spend their entire life cycle on the birdís body and only move on to another bird when 2 birds are close enough together for them to make the jump. They may also hitchhike on fallen feathers that are picked up by other birds. While lice can live for months on the bird they will usually only live a few days if they are tossed off on a discarded feather.

The eggs are laid in clusters along the shaft of the feathers. These egg hatch within a few days, producing nymphs. Nymphs are young immature lice. The nymphs then change in to larvae, which go through several more changes before they finally become mature adult lice.

    Signs & Symptoms of Lice
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive preening
  • Ruffling of feathers
  • Irritation.

In some cases you may notice feather damage and discoloration as well.

Red Mites
Red mites are nocturnal and can be found crawling around on the skin and feathers at night. They make the bird restless and itchy. The areas around the head and vent are the most common places to find the mite on the bird and these are areas where the feathering is thinner making access to the skin/blood easier.

These mites are easy to spot with the naked eye but since they are only active at night you will need to check your birds several hours after dark. Or you can cover the cage at night with a white sheet. Examination of the sheet in the morning will show tiny brown or red specks about the size of a grain of pepper if the bird has red mites.

Being very opportunistic feeders the mite will bite and feed from other household pets and even humans.

After they have fed on your birdsí blood the red mites will crawl off into cracks in the cage, perches, nest boxes or even into other areas of the home in the morning. During the day, mites can get into furniture, carpeting and woodwork, where they lay their eggs.

A heavy infestation can cause anemia and even the death of chicks in the nest.

    Signs & Symptoms of Red Mites
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive preening
  • Ruffling of feathers
  • Irritation.

Chiggers
Chiggers are the immature stage of a mite. Chiggers feed in clusters on the thighs, breast, undersides of the wings and the vent. These chigger clusters result in reddish scabby lesions. The chiggers feed for about 14 days, then drop off and the lesion heals naturally.

Treatment
Each of these pests can be deterred from bothering your birds and family with the occasional use of Avian Insect Liquidator, Control or Permectrin 11. Or if you already have an infestation use these a little more liberally to kill the insects then retreat on a regular basis to prevent a reinfestation.

Lice have a fairly long life span. Since the adults can live for several months and it may take several weeks for an egg to hatch and develop in to an adult it is best to treat weekly for 4-6 weeks depending how severe the infestation is.

Red Mites have a 7-day life cycle. To properly treat for these pests you should apply the treatment to the birds and cage every other day for 8 days. It will kill the adult and immature mites but will not have any effect on the eggs.

Other common parasites are Air Sac Mites and Scaly Face Mites.