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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there! I have a question about Lucy, my year-old whiteface cockatiel. I've had her for about 7 months. She is an active bird with a good appetite. The bulk of her diet is Avi-Cakes.

I have noticed that occasionally when she is sitting on my shoulder, Lucy will vigorously shake her head and a small amount of undigested seeds will fly out of her beak. She has done this maybe a half dozen times, and it only happens when she's sitting with me, never while in her cage. It doesn’t seem like vomiting or regurgitation because the food isn't digested at all, but I’m not sure what else it could be. I haven’t been able to find anything about this behavior online, and I keep forgetting to ask the vet. Has anyone else experienced this?
 

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Definitely sounds like regurgitation. It's not common in tiels, because they don't have to feed their mates in the nest but it does happen. When a tiel regurgitates, the food is not digested, it's just made softer. She loves you so much she wants to share!!
 

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Head-bobbing up and down, or shaking side to side? If shaking, then it sounds like vomiting to me. Vomited seeds can be undigested if they're from the crop and recently eaten.
 

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This also sounds like vomiting to me.. when Honey was vomiting she shook her head and seeds flew everywhere. With regurgitating it's much less dramatic.
 

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I think it's difficult to tell the difference between vomiting and regurgitation from a written description, but once you've seen both, there's no question about which is which. If seeds are actually flying out instead of intentionally being placed somewhere, then it's vomiting.

Sometimes birds vomit if they eat a bunch and then get overly active/excited/startled by something. But I would get a vet check to be safe.
 

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Agree with Enigma

Head bobbing up and down in a wave = regurgitating = ok. Head side to side fast = vomiting = not so ok.

It could be a reaction to something toxic she ingested, an emotional reaction (my first tiel was bonded to me and literally vomited with rage when an addition was made to the household; we thought at first she was regurgitating out of affection but her subsequent moodiness and jealousy made us realize it was literally vomiting with rage).

Did something happen that made the cockatiel angry/scared? If so she may be seeking you out for safety the the vomiting is an after-affect, like when you throw up after a short burst of adrenaline from an immediate stressor.

Cockatiels are prey birds and need to "dump the system" in order to save blood for running away (priority over digestion).

I would try to pay attention to immediate stressors (loud music, tv shows, commercials, outside traffic, sudden room entries, shadows, etc.) and see if there is a connection.

If not then I would suspect a crop infection that is blocking the digestive process.

You can try a bit of Mothers Apple Cider Vinegar shaken and then add 1 tablespoon to four ounces of drinking water.

It will help balance the PH the crop.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you to everyone who has replied! Unfortunately, this always happens so quickly that I haven't been able to see which direction she's moving her head when the seeds come out. It has always happened when she's sitting on my shoulder, there doesn't seem to be anything that startles or upsets her. She'll be sitting quietly, maybe preening, and then *bam* a small spray of slightly damp seeds flies into my lap - or more often onto the keyboard of my laptop!
I'll mention in next time we're at the vet, but she seems otherwise healthy - good appetite, no weight loss, normal droppings, nothing going on with her eyes or cere.
 
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