When little Charlie throws up seeds he might not be sick. Parakeets, also called budgies and budgerigars, regurgitate slightly digested seeds as part of their normal behavior. Vomiting is a sign of illness, though, and birds who vomit should see a vet.
Parakeets regurgitate to feed their mates and chicks, bringing up seeds or other food from their crops. The food's still recognizable as it hasn't been broken down in the gut. Parakeets often regurgitate to their owners or a favorite object, such as a mirror or bell, as a sign of affection. Before regurgitating, they stretch their necks to help bring up the food. Owners who don't like the habit can distract their birds as soon as they start to regurgitate by putting them back in their cages, or refocusing their attention on another object. Excessive regurgitation without a favorite person or object could be a symptom of crop infection, and Charlie will need to see a vet.
Vomiting is unusual and could be a sign of serious illness. Vomit looks like partially or fully digested food, and may be foamy. You might see it stuck to Charlie's feathers or notice it on the cage floor. Vomiting is generally an uncontrolled motion and the bird's head may bob violently. Other symptoms may include diarrhea and blood in the vomit. Motion sickness, poisoning, anesthesia and disease are some causes. If Charlie is vomiting, contact a vet immediately.
Avian Gastric Yeast
Throwing up seeds could be a symptom of avian gastric yeast infection. As well as vomiting or regurgitation, Charlie may also lose weight, have difficulty in swallowing and have diarrhea. The diagnosis is controversial, but some vets believe it's caused by the fungus Actinomyces and prescribe antibiotics as a treatment. Sick birds need minimal handling, tempting food to stimulate their appetites, easily accessible water, and a supplemental heat source such as a heating pad or infrared lamp. Check in-cage temperatures with an aquarium thermometer kept out of the bird's reach. Panting and holding wings away from the body are signs of overheating.
Liver disease is common in parakeets, and symptoms can include regurgitation, listlessness, fluffed feathers, difficulty breathing, increased thirst, swollen abdomen and yellow- or green-stained diarrhea. Vets need to see parakeets suffering symptoms of liver disease. Infections, toxins, poor diet and tumors are some of the causes of liver disease. Treatments range from a simple change in diet to medication and hospitalization. Sometimes a cure isn't possible but the condition can be successfully managed to improve the bird's quality of life.
A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.