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Regurgitation: Bird Term of the Day

Definitions of words used by pet bird enthusiasts with the pet bird slant.

By Angie Hendrickson

Grey-headed parrot (uncape parrot) regurgitating for a brown-necked parrot. 
By Gina Cioli/BowTie Studio/Courtesy Omar's Exotic Birds
It's usually adult birds that regurgitate to baby parrots, but even young birds, like this grey-headed parrot (left) and brown-necked parrot, will regurgitate to each other.

You might think it’s gross, but if your bird regurgitates for you, it’s actually a huge compliment!  Regurgitation is that gross thing birds do where they throw up all over you — or at least that’s how it’s been described by some. Regurgitation is actually a pet bird bringing up partially digested food from its crop. It is then either swallowed or the pet bird attempts to push the regurgitated food matter from its beak into another bird’s beak, your mouth/skin or onto a favorite toy.

Birds (parrots and otherwise) experience regurgitation when they are babies and in breeding pairs as adults. Usually, while the female bird is still sitting on her eggs, the male bird eats for both of them and then regurgitates it to feed the female bird. The same thing happens once the baby birds hatch. Baby birds are completely dependent on their bird parents, which regurgitate small amounts of food that they then feed to the babies. Regurgitation is also used as an act during courting, as if the bird were saying, “Look how well I can provide for you and our future family.

With pet birds, regurgitation is usually reserved for favorite people, toys or other birds. Regurgitation is usually an effortless process. The bird might bob its head a little bit, but there’s not a lot of straining involved in regurgitation. Birds also usually regurgitate with a purpose, meaning they’re not flinging it around everywhere. If you notice your bird straining, shaking its head from side to side, or flinging her regurgitated, partially digested food matter, this may be actual vomiting and not regurgitation. In that case, call your avian veterinarian.

Bird Word of the Day

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Regurgitation: Bird Term of the Day

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Reader Comments
I've never had my birds do that!
Lynora, Janesville, WI
Posted: 5/29/2011 6:42:07 AM
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