Over the past three months, I had three different Gouldian finches present with miscellaneous symptoms of illness. Two were hens living in the same aviary and both hens became lethargic and puffy with labored, rapid breathing. They were a mother and daughter so my first thought was that they had a genetic problem, since none of the other twenty or so Gouldians in that aviary looked sick.

I placed the two hens into my hospital cage with an overhead heat lamp and provided neem leaf tea as the only water source for the hospital cage as well as the aviary that the hens were living in, just in case others might become sick. I waited for over two weeks and as there was no change in the two hens I decided that they probably had some genetic organ problem and would soon die. I stopped the neem leaf tea, as I felt that it was not working for them, but in watching them more carefully on the day I stopped the tea, I wasn’t quite sure whether they were better or not. They were still breathing rapidly and were terribly puffy, apparently near death – but there was something about them that seemed brighter or more alert. I decided to continue the tea after all. To my amazement, after four weeks on the tea, they both made a full recovery and are back in their aviary, tea-free and doing beautifully.

More recently, a male Gouldian from a different aviary became lethargic, anorexic and extremely puffy, again seemingly near death. For this bird, he looked so bad that I really had no hope but I put him on the neem leaf tea as a long shot. Again, there was no improvement for about two weeks, but because he was still alive, I remembered the two hens and kept up with the tea. Sure enough, the male has also turned around after about three weeks. He is flying, eating and acting normally now, and is no longer puffy.

This was a big lesson to me: this tea takes a lot longer to kick in than I previously believed, but can clearly deliver a full cure.

PLEASE NOTE: Any time you use neem leaf tea as the only water source, you must make sure that the birds are drinking the tea, not just at all, but as much as they would be if the tea were water. I have seen birds who drank just a little of the tea and developed symptoms of dehydration over a period of days. Dehydration symptoms include squinting, lethargy or puffy feathers. Always offer plain water at the end of each day to make sure the birds are getting plenty of fluids. If a bird drinks a great deal of water then it means they don’t like the flavor of neem and you must stop using the tea.

Lainey Alexander

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, or by any veterinarian. All information, including any product or technique mentioned, is for educational purposes only. None of the information is intended to diagnose or treat any disease.