Regurgitation involves bringing up warm, mushy food from the crop with a liquid.
The budgie will bob its head up and down to regurgitate before producing undigested food it can release in a targeted way.
Budgies regurgitate undigested food to feed their chicks, court other budgies, due to overstimulation, or as an act of love.
A lone budgie may regurgitate food on its toys, mirror reflection, or a bonded owner in the mistaken belief that this item or person is a potential mate.
It’s common for budgies to confuse bonded owners and toys with mates. For example, a budgie that sees its reflection in a mirror may regurgitate on it to feed the other budgie as an act of courtship.
Is My Budgie Vomiting or Regurgitating?
While it’s easy to confuse vomiting and regurgitation, they’re two completely different things.
Vomiting is a sign of a health problem due to the following:
- Drinking too much water
- A fungal or bacterial infection, such as candidiasis
- Spoiled food
- An intestinal or esophageal obstruction
- Food allergies
- Dietary changes
- Diseases, including heart, kidney problems, and liver disease
Before your budgie vomits, it’ll appear depressed and lethargic and may refuse to eat. For this reason, you’ll likely know that something is wrong before your budgie throws up.
Regurgitation is a more common behavior that can occur several times a day. It’s accompanied by repeated head bobbing and is more precise and controlled than vomiting.
Budgie Vomit vs. Regurgitation
While vomiting and regurgitation appear similar, there are some key differences.
When budgies vomit, they involuntarily expel semi or fully-digested food. They also bring up a clear or whitish liquid that’s slightly thicker than water.
Vomiting is a sign of a health condition and isn’t a normal or common behavior in budgies, while regurgitation is a natural and vital part of their instincts.
Budgies become visibly stressed when they vomit and sometimes shake their heads from side to side or spit. Then, they uncontrollably throw up their stomach contents, not the contents of their crop.
What Does Budgie Regurgitation Look Like?
When a budgie regurgitates, it bobs its head and outstretches its neck, extending and retracting it in a swift and repeated motion. It’ll also make a clicking or gagging noise, making owners think their budgie is choking.
By bobbing their heads up and down, budgies can produce softened, undigested food. This food is mushy in consistency with a small amount of liquid from their crop. Then, ty can place this food wherever they choose, such as directly into a chick or mate’s mouth.
During the regurgitation process, budgies remain calm and display no signs of distress.
Why Do Budgies Throw Up Their Food?
As mentioned, regurgitation is normal avian behavior. Despite a budgie’s small size, the crop is a large organ that can expand to accommodate a surprisingly large amount of food.
Budgies will gorge themselves, giving themselves enough food to regurgitate later.
Budgies commonly regurgitate for the following reasons:
When chicks are first born, they can’t forage for themselves and rely on their parents to provide them with the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.
As described by the American Federation of Aviculture, crop milk is produced in the crop. It contains protein, fat, vitamin A, and complex B vitamins that chicks need to be healthy.
When they’re first born, chicks don’t have fully developed beaks, meaning they can’t consume solid foods. The food regurgitated from the crop is easier for them to eat.
Budgies exhibit courting-related regurgitation more than most other birds.
By ejecting food for one another, budgies show potential mates that they’re proficient at foraging and food provision. The receiving budgie will eat the offering and may bring it back up.
When in a bonded pair, male budgies regurgitate to feed their mate (the hen), who’s busy tending to the eggs. Budgies can only leave their nests for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time once incubation has begun, or else the eggs would become too cold to hatch and die.
Most courtship feeding occurs at this time, providing females with a valuable food source leading to the eggs hatching. In the wild, it also means that the eggs are less vulnerable to predators due to having no parents around to guard them against external threats.
Attraction to Toys and Owners
This occurs when budgies are ready to breed. Budgies become overly attached to toys and develop a sexual attraction to them, mistaking toys for potential mates.
This problem occurs when they’re:
- Lonely and want to form a bond
- Don’t have anyone or a second budgie to play or communicate with
The same happens when budgies are bonded with humans. Similarly, budgies regurgitate on mirrors because they don’t understand that they’re looking at their reflection, mistaking it for a mate.
Why Does My Budgie Regurgitate on Me?
Budgies regurgitate to show each other interest. Naturally, if your budgie regurgitates on you, it sees you as its mate. While this is a natural courting behavior, it’s not healthy to encourage it.
Overstimulation is another reason budgies regurgitate on you. Budgies have four sexual zones: on the undersides of the wings, under the tail, and on the top of the tail, where the flight feathers are located.
When petting your budgie, you must avoid touching these areas, or you’ll evoke excitement by making your bird feel sexually frustrated.
Doing so can lead to the following problems:
- Self-destructive behaviors, like feather plucking
- Social dysfunction, rejecting time with other birds
If you don’t stop this behavior, a budgie will see you as its mate, regurgitating on you to show affection.
Why Is My Budgie Regurgitating Constantly?
A budgie that doesn’t stop regurgitating may be stressed. This could be because you’ve rejected its advances or because it isn’t living in an optimal environment.
Captivity is unnatural for budgies, and while they can thrive as domesticated pets, they must be able to exhibit as many natural behaviors as possible.
Similarly, constant regurgitation is a sign of an illness.
For example, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences explains that budgies that constantly regurgitate could have contracted macrorhabdus ornithogaster (avian gastric yeast).
However, as explained, sicknesses cause excessive vomiting, which is entirely different from regurgitation. It’s common to get the two confused, though.
The most common reasons for constant vomiting include:
- Blocked or damaged crop
- Blocked gastrointestinal tract
- Gastric yeast infection
These conditions are at the very least uncomfortable and, at worst, life-threatening.
Budgies rely on their crops as an essential part of digestion, so you must treat excessive regurgitation as an emergency to get treatment for any underlying health issues.
How Do I Stop My Budgie Regurgitating?
There’s no need to stop your budgie from regurgitating if it’s due to feeding its chicks or courtship behavior with its mate. This is part of your bird’s ingrained instincts.
However, if your budgie regurgitates on you, you’ll need to discourage the behavior to avoid health and behavioral problems.
You can do this by following these steps:
You mustn’t accept your budgie’s advances, or they’ll continue. If your budgie regurgitates on you, return the budgie to its cage and ignore it while cleaning up the mess.
This action will be sufficient to reject its courting behavior.
Your budgie may need more enrichment or interaction, be it with you or a second budgie. Budgies live in large flocks of up to 100 in the wild and prefer being with their own species.
If you’re unable to own another bird for various reasons, pay your budgie more attention.
You may find that certain toys, games, or sounds trigger your budgie to regurgitate. If that’s the case, identify the trigger and remove it, or be careful with how you use it around your budgie.
Regurgitation in budgies isn’t a concern, as long as the budgie otherwise appears healthy. However, action needs to be taken to prevent this behavior if it regurgitates on you.