MAKING OUR HOME BEAUTIFUL 233
trouble. If a bird shows signs of distress, it should be placed at once in a warm, protected place. Twenty drops of brandy, five of sweet spirits of niter, and a few shreds of saffron added to the drinking water, are beneficial. It is well to add egg food or moistened bread to the ordinary fare once or twice each week during molt. For ailing birds, a very slight quantity of sulphur may be added to the egg food, or a weak saffron tea given instead of pure drinking water. A few linseeds in the seed supply give a gloss and sheen to the new feathers not otherwise obtainable.
Canaries serve as hosts for two forms of external parasites. The larger of these, a bird louse, known usually as the gray louse, is an insect with a slender, elongated body and a large head armed with strong jaws. This pest feeds upon the feather structure of the bird's outer covering, and though it does not suck the blood of its host, its sharp claws irritate the skin and cause discomfort to the bird. The eggs of the gray louse are attached to the feathers by a gum and are not easily removed. The young insects resemble the adults, and in a few weeks after hatching are fully grown. They are best combated by blowing insect powder (pyrethrum) into the plumage of the affected bird with a small bellows or blower. This treatment should be repeated two or three times at intervals of a week to insure that any young bird-lice hatching in the meantime will be killed.
The other parasite of canaries is a small mite, a minute spiderlike creature that when fully grown is barely visible to the unaided eye. Its natural color is whitish, but nearly always it is filled with blood sucked from the body of the unfortunate bird harboring it, so that it appears bright red. These mites are nocturnal and, except in cases of severe infestation, are seldom found upon the body of their host during the day. They are often found in the slits at the ends of the perches or in the round piece of metal forming the support at the top of the ordinary wire cage. In wooden cages they hide