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My Parakeet flips food out of food bowl

Question:

My parakeet keeps flitting [flipping] all the food out of two of the dishes whenever I refill.  I saw her laying in the dish at one time, but only briefly and her activity level has not diminished.  what is going on?

Thanks
Glenna

Answer:

There are several things that could be going on here. I’ll start with the most extreme:

Your Parakeet may be wanting to lay an egg

If she is in fact a female she may be trying to make a nest (you can tell if she’s a girl if she has a brown cere).

If she has a mate then they may have mated and she needs to make a nest. If you think your bird may have mated, get her a nest box and read up on parakeet breeding. You are probably going to have babies.

If she does not have a mate but she has another bird in her cage (male or female), if she thinks you are her mate, or if she has a mirror in her cage then she may think she has mated with the other bird, you, or her reflection in the mirror and now she wants to make a nest.

If you are sure she has not mated, don’t encourage nesting behavior. Parakeets can lay eggs even without a mate if stimulated but egg laying is always hard on their bodies. Make sure she’s getting plenty of calcium in case she does lay an egg.

To discourage her from making and laying eggs, get a smaller food bowl or maybe even a plate that she can’t sit inside of, get rid of any mirrors in the cage, and when you handle her, never touch her vent, under her wings, or her lower back (she may think you are mating if you touch her in these places).

Some people say that shortening her days by covering her cage and putting her to bed earlier will help stop nesting/breeding behavior. This works on other parrots but I have not seen this work with budgie parakeets. You’re welcome to give it a try though.

If you think your parakeet might be egg-bound (she needs to lay an egg but it’s stuck), see a vet right away. You can tell if a bird is egg-bound because she will have a bulge near her vent (butt), and she will be lazy, fluffed up, and usually off balance.

Your Parakeet may just hate her food

She might hate all of her food. This happens all the time when people are switching there birds from seeds to pellets or from one brand of seed to another. Parakeets will flick the food out of the bowl in search of the food they once loved that they used to find in the bowl.

She may like some of the food but not all of it. Parakeets usually pick a favorite food in their food mixture and eat it first. Maybe they like millet or flaxseed the most. They will pick through the seeds or pellets and eat these first. Once they are gone, they will get frustrated and toss everything else out hoping to find at least one more piece of millet.

To fix this, let her get hungry between meals. In the wild, parakeets eat in the morning, sleep in the afternoon, then wake again in the evening to find food again. It is hunger that stimulates them to wake up and get food. You can simulate this but taking food away from the bird at night, giving it back in the morning for a few hours. Taking it out again, giving it back in the afternoon, and taking it out again before bed. A hungry bird is less picky.

Make sure she has access to food for at least 4 to 6 hours a day. You don’t want to starve your bird.

Maybe she’s board and has found a new hobby!

Lucky you, your bird is doing it just for fun. Not only is food entertaining to play with, but it also gets  your attention. As soon she empties her dish, you come and refill it. Could anything be more fun!

If you think this is the case, do what I said above by limiting her access to food to only several hours a day. You should see the behavior start to stop within a few days.

Also, make sure she gets plenty of play time with toys, you, or other birds.

Good Luck!

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