Diseases. The diseases to which the canary is especially liable are not numerous; it is by no means so delicate a bird as is generally considered; and, if properly fed and cared for, will live many years in confinement without falling ill, or manifesting any decline of strength and vigour.
Surfeit or Rupture. This disease most commonly attacks young birds; it is an inflammatory state of the bowels, caused generally either by an excess of highly-nutritious food which cannot be digested, or by food in a stale or otherwise improper condition. Its most marked symptom is a great distention of the skin of the body, which appears full of small red veins; through this the intestines may be seen, more particularly at the lower part, in knotty lumps, looking black and turgid. The mode of treatment will depend greatly upon whether the motions of the bird are frequent and watery, or unfrequent and hard. In the former case it should have Embden groats or oatmeal, mixed with a little bruised hemp seed, which indeed are of a binding nature, and a small, very small quantity, once or twice a-day, of stale sponge-cake, soaked in white wine ; a little piece of alum in the water is also good. in the latter case, give mixed with the seed a few whole groats, a blade or two of saffron in the water, in which for two or three mornings also put as much magnesia as will lie upon a sixpence; bread and milk, with a sprinkle of hemp seed, may be given once or twice a-day with advantage. In both cases the patients should be kept warm and quiet. In old birds surfeit sometimes shows itself in scabs about the head, eyes, and bill, out of which flows a humour so acrid as to destroy the surrounding feathers, and sometimes to produce total blindness. The only chance for the bird now lies in a spare, cooling diet; let it now eat rape seed with ome bruised groats, and put salt in its water. When it has been well purged and got quite thin, if the malady seems some-what subdued, you may gradually mix canary seed with the rape, and render its diet more nourishing; but this should be done very carefully. Anoint the sores and places where the feathers come off with fresh butter, or oil of sweet almonds, and bathe them with warm milk; a weak solution of salt or alum is sometimes useful to dry the humour and cleanse the sores.
Egg Rupture. Suffering under this disease, which of course attacks birds only, a bird is said to be egg-bound; there is some obstruction in the passage which prevents the extrusion of the ova. You will probably find your canary crouched down in a corner of the cage, or perhaps brooding over an empty nest under the impression that she has laid. Take her up very gently, and anoint the abdominal parts with warm salad -oil; this will frequently afford relief in a few hours. If it does not, administer, ; by means of a quill passed into the gullet, i a few drops of castor-oil. Should that fail | the case is hopeless. A warm bath may be tried as a last resource, but most likely the patient will die.
Yellow Gall, or Scab, in the head and eyes may be cured by light cooling foods, such as lettuce and rape seed, and a little bread and milk, to nourish without heating the system.
Sweating. This is a disease to which sitting hens are liable; it is an indication of weakness, and will sometimes destroy the brood. Let the body of the patient be first washed with salt and water, and then with fresh spring water to remove the saline particles; dry her rapidly in the sun, or before a good fire; repeat this every day until she is better; give her good, nourishing food, and lighten her duties as much as possible ; remove her mate if he is at all troublesome, and every cause of annoyance and anxiety. See that the breeding place be not too close and ill-ventilated, and you will no doubt effect a cure.
Sneezing is generally caused by some obstruction of the nostril, which may be removed by putting a small feather up it. This should be done very carefully, or you may injure the bird; hold it in a firm yet gentle manner, that you may not give it unnecessary alarm or pain. The same directions will apply to the cutting of
Overgrown Claws and Beak, which, on account of their bad effects upon the health and spirits of a cage bird, may well be classed among diseases. The consciousness of having these an undue length, rendering it liable to be entangled in the bars of its cage, or whatever it comes in contact with, will cause a bird to mope and refuse its food; and if not relieved from its awkward state of embarrassment, it will be very likely to pine and die. In both bill and claws, if held up to the light, you may see by the termination of the red lines how far the veins extend. Nearly up to this point you may safely cut.
Huskiness and Loss of Voice generally proceeds from a cold ; it sometimes comes on after moulting. If not speedily attended to and cured, it will most likely become chronic. Many a fine songster has been thus rendered mute and comparatively valueless. The bird suffering under this disease should be kept in a warm room, and fed upon rape and canary mixed with linseed. Ripe plantain should also be given, and every morning about a teaspoon-ful of boiled bread and milk, with maw seed sprinkled over it. Sponge-cake soaked in sherry wine is also good, and a little white sugar-candy or extract of liquorice dissolved in the water.
Constipation may be cured by giving the birds plenty of green food, such as lettuce, water-cress, chickweed, etc.
Epilepsy is commonly the result of fear acting upon a constitution enervated by too delicate a mode of treatment. At the slightest alarm, and often when agitated or excited in any way, the bird will drop from its perch as if dead. The quickest remedy is to plunge it in a bath of cold water, and when it begins to recover, drop a little sherry wine down its throat. The bath, if repeated every morning, will strengthen the bird, as will a few drops of spirits of nitre in its water. When in the fit, some pull a feather out of the tail of the patient, but we scarcely think this of much service.
Moulting Sickness. This is an inevitable visitation, which no amount of care and attention will prevent or delay beyond the appointed time. Every year, in or about the month of September, sometimes earlier, your bird sheds his old feathers and acquires new ones, and during the process, which lasts from three to six weeks, according to the strength of the bird, the state of the atmosphere, and other circumstances, it will be more or less indisposed. As the time for the annual change approaches, when you see your pet begin to lose his vivacity, and to drop hiis feathers, your first care must be to have it placed in a warm situation. Let the cage be partly muffled with baize or flannel so as to exclude all draughts, as well as disturbing sights and sounds. Give it bread and milk, a little beef, raw and lean, scraped fine, yolk of egg, and now and then a piece of sponge-cake, and some ripe chickweed. Put a rusty nail in the water, with occasionally a clove, or a few shreds of saffron, or a piece of refined liquorice. Should he moult with difficulty, let him have cake soaked in sherry wine, and blow a little of the wine over his feathers every day. This will invigorate him, and assist their development. If it be a hearty, strong bird, most likely matters will go on all right, and you will have no occasion to resort to this. With all birds, however, the moulting season is a critical time, and with weakly ones especially so. Then it is that coarse sand or gravel at the bottom of the cage is more than ever essential ; and also, as there is generally a loss of appetite, such delicacies as we have described, to tempt the palate and support the strength. The first moult of young birds takes place when they are from six to twelve weeks old; they then exchange the soft down and loose leathers with which they are first covered, for the perfect adult plumage, which in the second result undergoes considerable changes in colour.
Diseased Feet. Swollen feet and claws in a canary nearly always result from the want of opportunity to wash and bathe, or from a dirty state of the perches and bottom of its cage; consequently they convey a reproach, mute yet eloquent, on the neglect of its keeper. Let the bird have the required opportunities, and remove the exciting cause of the unsightly and disgraceful swellings, and they will soon disappear. Sometimes a little anointing with salad-oil may be required to hasten the cure.