Budgies can often tell us how they’re feeling through their body movements. They use body language to show emotion when they’re sick, happy, scared, threatened, and when they feel conversational. When you’ve had a budgie for long enough, you’ll start to learn what its different body languages mean.
Neck stretching is a form of body language that has many different meanings. You might need to look at other movements or noises your budgie makes to know exactly why it’s stretching its neck.
Budgies stretch their necks due to behaviors such as regurgitation, yawning, looking around, stretching to relieve tension, or begging for food. However, neck stretching can also be caused by difficulty breathing and illnesses like Avian Gastric Yeast Infection.
Why is My Budgie Stretching Its Neck?
When you see your budgie stretching its neck, it’s usually not a cause for concern.
Budgies stretch their necks for many different reasons, most of which are common body movements. However, sometimes when budgies stretch their necks, it’s because there is something wrong with them.
Budgies will regurgitate their partially digested food and feed it to their babies. Budgies also sometimes regurgitate when they’re trying to woo a potential mate. Sometimes they’ll regurgitate for no good reason, just because they want to.
Regurgitation can also be a symbol of love between budgies. If your budgie has ever regurgitated on you, it’s because it loves you so much.
When budgies are looking at their reflection in a mirror, they don’t realize they’re staring at themselves, and they’ll occasionally regurgitate onto the mirror as if it’s a potential mate.
When budgies regurgitate, they stretch their necks, sometimes moving their necks and heads up and down. These movements help them to force the food up out of their stomachs.
Sometimes budgies stretch or crane their necks so they can look around.
If they’re trying to get a closer look at something, or if something has caught their attention, they may stretch their necks to get a better look.
When your budgie stretches its neck and opens its mouth, it’s usually because it’s yawning and stretching.
Your budgie could be yawning just because it’s tired. However, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), budgies often yawn when their body temperatures rise.
It’s thought that external temperatures can sometimes trigger the yawn response in budgies and other birds, which may be the case occasionally.
However, the study done by the APA shows that a change in external temperature didn’t trigger the yawn response, but rather an increase in the bird’s body temperature triggered the yawn response.
It’s also been determined that yawning is related to other thermoregulatory functions.
In addition, according to Animal Cognition, an experiment was conducted to determine if yawning was contagious among budgies like it is among humans.
The study determined that budgies “represent the first non-mammalian species and only the fifth species to date to show contagious yawning in an experimentally controlled setting.”
Yawning was contagious in the other four species, including humans, chimpanzees, domesticated dogs, and Sprague-Dawley rats.
Sometimes budgies stretch like people to relieve tension or stretch their muscles.
For instance, you might stretch your arms above your head and arch your back when you stand up after sitting for too long. Budgies do the same thing, and their neck stretch will usually be accompanied by stretching out their wings and legs.
When budgies stretch their necks, wings, and legs, it’s also often a sign that they’re happy and satisfied. If the stretching is a bit dramatic, then your budgie could just be trying to get some attention from you.
Begging for Food
Baby budgies often stretch their necks toward their mothers when they want to be fed, which is a natural body movement. Sometimes grown budgies may stretch their necks when they want to eat something.
For instance, if you’re having a snack and standing near your budgie, it may stretch its neck toward you in the hopes that you’ll share your snack with it.
If you’ve noticed that your budgie often stretches its neck when you approach, that may be its way of saying hi to you, or perhaps it’s pleased to see you.
If it’s a reaction to a happy or excited emotion, the neck stretch may also be accompanied by a wing flap, a shake, or some other body movement that shows your budgie’s excitement.
Sometimes budgies stretch their necks because there’s something wrong with them. Your budgie may be stretching its neck because it’s having trouble breathing.
Your budgie could have an illness like a respiratory tract infection or ataxia, or it could have air sac mites that make it difficult to breathe.
Aside from stretching its neck, your budgie may also be opening its mouth, stretching its neck up and down, and moving its tail up and down with every breath it tries to take.
If you’re worried that your budgie is having trouble breathing and could be sick, look for other symptoms that might confirm this, such as:
- Decreased appetite
- Discharge from nose or eyes
- Ruffled feathers
- Change in appearance of droppings
- Loss of balance
- Heavy, deep, slow breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Swelling around the eyes
- Sudden loss of feathers
- Open mouth breathing
- Regurgitation or vomiting
- Weight loss
- Gagging or neck stretching
Megabacteriosis or Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY)
According to the Bulgarian Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Megabacteriosis, also known as avian gastric yeast (AGY), is a common fungal disease among birds that affects the gastrointestinal tract.
Sometimes budgies can have it at low levels and not show any symptoms. The birds that have it but don’t show symptoms are often carriers of the disease, which means they can spread it to other birds.
There are two variations of AGY: acute and chronic. The acute variation causes budgies to get sick and die within 12 to 24 hours of getting sick. Budgies will suddenly become inactive, quiet, and appear depressed. Their regurgitation may contain traces of blood.
This chronic variation is much more common among budgies and causes excessive weight loss among the birds. Budgies may have difficulty swallowing, which could result in gaping beaks and stretching their necks. Their regurgitation may appear slimy with a clear or white color and possible traces of blood. They may also have diarrhea containing undigested food.
This disease is usually transferred between birds through water contaminated with feces and community feeding practices.
Unfortunately, no treatment currently provides a cure for this disease. Antibacterial drugs haven’t shown much success in fighting this disease. Antifungal medications have been slightly more successful at attacking this disease, but they haven’t been successful in completely curing the disease.
Keeping your budgie isolated from other birds and continuously monitoring its condition is the only way to manage the disease at this time.