First broadcast on  

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

If a bird brings up food after eating it it can be normal behaviour or associated with a variety of diseases

When a bird brings up food after eating it can be difficult to be sure whether the food has been vomited, regurgitated or retched back. In most cases regurgitation of food is going to be a normal process, but it can also be associated with a wide range of diseases. In all cases the bird should be weighed daily to determine whether or not it is losing weight - which is a poor sign.

Potential causes of vomiting, regurgitation or retching back food are :

  • Normal courting behaviour between male and female birds, or sometimes between male birds and toy birds, or reflections in mirrors
  • Stress-related behaviour in males kept by themselves
  • Bacterial infection of the upper alimentary tract (crop, gizzard or proventriculus)
  • Viral infection of the upper alimentary tract
  • Parasitic infection eg trichomoniasis of the upper alimentary tract
  • Fungal infection (eg candidiasis) of the upper alimentary tract
  • Tumours in the upper alimentary tract
  • Ulcers in the upper alimentary tract
  • Foreign material obstructing the upper alimentary tract
  • Poisoning - especially heavy metals eg zinc, lead, but also other toxins eg aflatoxins on seeds, or disinfectants
  • Goitre - enlarged thyroid gland in the neck

Diagnosis requires careful observation physical examination and tests including :

  • Xrays
  • Viewing the upper alimentary tract through a small endoscope
  • Collection of samples from the upper alimentary tract - eg crop washings, swabs for microbiological examination

If your bird does vomit up something collect it into a sterile container if you have one available so that your veterinarian can examine it.


Updated October 2013