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Why Does My Bird Throw Up?

Sometimes when birds appear to be throwing up they are really just regurgitating. So, what's the difference? Physically, not too much. In both instances, to bring the food up, a bird will bob its head and stretch out its neck. The difference really lies with the intent of the action.

Regurgitating partially digested food from a food processing organ located in a bird's neck (the crop), is the way a bird feeds their babies.  Birds also use regurgitation as a courtship ritual with their mate.  Although somewhat of a gross idea to us, when your bird brings up food for you, it should be considered as a compliment and a sincere sign of affection!

Vomiting looks a lot like regurgitation but sometimes involves more of a flinging motion where a bird shakes its head from side to side to expel contents from its mouth.  

It is often difficult to differentiate between regurgitation and vomiting. One key way to tell is to observe your bird's body language and behavior:

  • If your bird is otherwise acting "as usual" and only brings up food when you are near then he is likely just regurgitating and showing you affection.
  • If your bird is acting weak, lethargic, fluffed, has runny droppings while bringing food up then he is likely sick and vomiting.

If you are unsure what you are seeing, take your bird to an Avian Veterinarian as soon as possible. Vomiting is serious and could indicate the presence of an infectious or metabolic disease or an exposure to a toxin.

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