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Old 12-24-2018, 04:06 AM
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Periodic vomiting

Over the past 2 weeks, I've had two of our cockatiels puke all over me in a violent head shaking motion. The direction of the vomit is in a straight line spreading out 2-3 feet so I know it's not simple regurgitation. The vomit consists of a combination of Zupreme formula mixed with Cerelac (since they won't eat straight Zupreme for some reason) and fully undigested seeds. Last night was the second time one of them did this. The episode for both birds was about 4 rounds of vomiting that occurred over 10 minutes. The feet of the one yesterday was cold and she sat slightly puffed up for about 15 minutes after it happened but then about 30 minutes later she was eating seeds again as if nothing happened. I've checked the weight of both and it has remained steady at or above 100 grams.

They're both 7 months old so they are beginning to molt. I know that cockatiels are thespians when it comes to faking their health but both birds reassumed normal behavior (eating, preening, playing, destroying etc) with hot feet and otherwise being bundles of infinite energy so I didn't see any reason to take them to vet unless someone has some insight to the contrary.

We did experience having a 2 month old get attacked by his sibling (probably sensing illness), now our eldest male, that subsequently vomited all over himself head to foot stopped eating or otherwise couldn't keep anything down. We took him to the vet the next day that gave him antibiotics and vacuumed him for a possible blockage but sadly he didn't make it through the night even after we gave him a solution of dextrose, dribbled down the side of his beak, in the hopes of keeping him hydrated.

So after seeing two extremes of vomiting does anyone feel that I should be concerned about the case of the recent episode or otherwise have some insight into why it happens should there not be an underlying illness?
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Old 12-24-2018, 04:17 AM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

My first reaction: a *real* CAV asap.
(one that does not stuff antibiotics in a bird without any diagnosis, just on the offchance it might help ... is not what I would call a real informed vet)

Violent throwing up/away like this is not normal.
(but you know that already).

How do they smell? (Stinking from the beak? Or normal?)

2 out of 4 birds explosive-puking is strange
(I do not want to cry wolf, it may just be something harmless like a bad batch of chop the previous day, but it could be a symptom of something really. really bad)
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Old 12-24-2018, 05:22 AM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

We don't have an avian vet (as far as I know) in the area without having to get on an airline, unfortunately.

No strange smells came from either of the two recent cases and if I wasn't there to see them do it I'm not sure I would have known what I was looking at with respect to the aftermath. The recent cases was the exact opposite of the case of the one that we lost since his vomit was watery and sticky while completely covering his chest and head. It looked like he just took a bath. I don't remember that there was a smell but I wouldn't doubt it.

I'd definitely be very concerned if it happened within a few days of one another but the incidents were at least 2 weeks apart with others in the household saying closer to 3 weeks apart.

The one that vomited yesterday has been eating like a pig today like any other day, spent time playing on a ladder bridge swing, chewed random things around the house, spent some time sitting on me enjoying a head scratch, and her feet felt warm. When she vomited yesterday she spent about 20 minutes eating seeds and some formula before bed as if to replace what came up. Her droppings looked normal as well. The last thing I was looking for was how the other birds treated her due to previous experience of the non-sick bird attacking the sick one right before the vomiting began. Their behavior toward one another was normal.

Thanks for your reply - I will keep monitoring her for anything unusual.
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Old 12-24-2018, 06:53 AM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

actually it that timeframe that has me concerned...


but maybe they will just bounce back.
Birds are like kids sometimes: nothing wrong - complete mess and back to normal
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Old 12-24-2018, 09:00 AM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

It's the Ceralac!!!! You can't feed birds human baby cereals/formulas, specifically Ceralac or Similac, it's absolutely loaded with extra Iron!!! And combined with baby-bird hand-feeding formula, which is also very nutrient-dense and contains higher Iron content than regular bird seed-mix or pellets. it's causing Iron-Storage-Syndrome, of which violent vomiting is one of the first symptoms! Stop all forms of human baby food immediately!!!! I'd also stop the baby-bird handfeeding formula too for the at least the next couple of days. I'm sorry that it already killed one of them, sometimes they can get through it, sometimes they can't, I've seen it happen a few times when they have been fed nothing but Ceralac or Similac as their "handfeeding formula" when no commercial baby bird hand-feeding formula is available, and the high amount of Iron builds-up in their livers over time and eventually makes them violently ill and eventually will kill them...I think in this case it was probably the combination of mixing both the nutrient-dense, baby bird handfeeding formula with the Iron-loaded human baby cereal/formula that did it quite quickly...

Birds cannot handle much Iron at all, their bodies cannot process it and it causes a toxicity/poisoning reaction. Bird food, whether pellets or seed mix, or hand-feeding formula, is made specifically with little Iron content for this reason...Human baby formula is the opposite, it's loaded with extra Iron...This happens often in middle-eastern countries where they can't get hand-feeding formula for birds, so they feed Ceralac...And this is what happens...

Why are you feeding them hand-feeding formula? Are they not yet weaned? Either way you obviously need to stop all of the Ceralac or any other human baby formulas/cereals immediately, and push lots of water if you can...Actually Pedialyte is best, and let their systems clear out. I don't know what to tell you to feed them because I don't know if they are weaned or not...How old are they?
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Old 12-24-2018, 10:16 AM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

I'm hoping that the OP sees my post and stops feeding them the Ceralac, or the rest of them are going to die too...Sometimes they can be okay with it, but obviously the combination of both the Ceralac mixed with baby bird hand-feeding formula, which is also rich in vitamins/minerals including a bit higher Iron content then normal seed-mix or pellets, is what is killing them/making them sick.

When I said that I couldn't recommend what to feed them because I didn't know if they were weaned yet or not, I meant what to feed them to counteract the Iron...You said they "won't eat Zupreem" so that's why you're feeding them the formula mixed with the Ceralac, but I'm not clear about whether they aren't eating solid food yet at all, as in they aren't yet weaned, or they just won't eat Zupreem pellets, so you've decided to keep feeding them the hand-feeding formula and the Ceralac...Either way, obviously the Ceralac and any other human-baby formulas/cereals needs to be stopped immediately, as should the hand-feeding formula because of it's Iron content as well...They need to eat lots of water-filled foods right now, such as fresh veggies and fruit...If you have access to regular jars of babyfood, meaning the cheap jars of babyfood that are "stage 2" and contain nothing else but water and greenbeans, or water and peas, or water and squash, etc., nothing else but water and a veggie or fruit, then syringe feeding them that for a day, multiple times throughout the day, will help to flush out the Iron and get their Liver and Kidneys back to normal (as long as they haven't already absorbed too much Iron from the Ceralac/formula mix, like the one who died did)...Also, please make sure that you do not feed your birds ANY CITRUS FRUIT OR TOMATOES AT ALL!!!
Vitamin C enhances the body's absorption of Iron from all food they eat and keeps them from just excreting it, so any feeding of Citrus Fruit or Tomatoes will just make them worse at this point, and that means either fresh Citrus Fruit/Tomatoes or any jars of baby food that contain Citrus Fruit or Tomato. This includes Tomatoes, Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, and also stay away from any "Tropical Fruits" for the time-being as well, because they are also very high in Vitamin C, such as Mango, Papaya, Guava, Kiwi, Star Fruit (very high), Passionfruit, Dragonfruit, etc.


Just as a side-note, keeping in-mind I have no idea how old these birds are or if they are weaned onto solid food or not yet, but feeding hand-feeding formula to an adult bird isn't good anyway, unless they are sick and refusing to eat all solid foods. Otherwise, if they are weaned adults, then they need to eat food that isn't as nutrient-dense as the hand-feeding formula is, and if they are babies who aren't yet weaned, for the next day or two I would hold-back on the hand-feeding formula (and of course throw out the Ceralac or any other human-baby formula/cereal) and feed them just the jars of baby food that is only water and a veggie or fruit and nothing else, or puree some fresh veggies or fruit and water/Pedialyte in a blender and syringe feed them that for the next day and hold-off on the hand-feeding formula for a day or two because they can't take anymore Iron, their Livers need a break...If they are weaned and will eat a seed-mix or pellet, then definitely feed them that from now on, as well as any fresh veggies or fresh fruit, as the water-content will be good for them for the next couple of days.

I've talked about this issue before on here and gotten criticism about how Iron-Storage-Disease/Syndrome is not something to worry about, but this is why I always push the issue. The only other time I've seen it effect birds being hand-fed formula is when it's been someone from another country hand-feeding babies and they typically do use a human-baby formula or cereal mix, namely Ceralac or Similac because that's all they have access to, and then their babies start vomiting and die, and they can't figure out why...Right on the front of most packages of Ceralac, Similac, and most other human-baby formula/cereals it says something about being "Fortified with Iron" or just "With Iron Added", because it's so important that human-babies get extra Iron every day. Unfortunately with birds they just cannot handle Iron!
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Old 12-24-2018, 02:57 PM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

Whoa...nice catch Ellen!


I never heard of Cerelac so I asumed it was just another type of birdfood.
Why anyone would feed their birds something designed for the young of a completely different species is so weird it never even occured to me!
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Old 12-24-2018, 04:40 PM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

Quote: Originally Posted by ChristaNL View Post
Whoa...nice catch Ellen!


I never heard of Cerelac so I asumed it was just another type of birdfood.
Why anyone would feed their birds something designed for the young of a completely different species is so weird it never even occured to me!
I've seen it several times on here with people from countries in the middle-east who have bred their Alexandrines and are hand-feeding the chicks. They don't have access to baby bird hand-feeding formula, but they can buy either Ceralac or Similac, and the Ceralac is a human-baby cereal type of formula, so they think it's okay, not knowing that pretty-much ALL human baby formula/cereal is fortified to the gills with extra Iron, so much so that most of the packaging says it right on the front...

In this case, I have no idea why the OP is mixing baby bird hand-feeding formula WITH the Ceralac, but that's way too much Iron...the hand-feeding formula has much more Iron in it than pellets or seed-mixes do, then add the Ceralac that is loaded with Iron and that's what is causing them to projectile-vomit, and the one to actually pass-away. Hopefully the remaining bird's livers can eliminate the rest of the Iron in their systems and they'll be okay, I just hope they see this, because if they keep feeding them Ceralac multiple times a day the rest of them are going to die as well...

I know the OP obviously didn't know about the Iron Storage Disease and the human-baby formula, I don't have a clue if these birds are young or adults, or if they are even weaned or they are just feeding them formula for some other reason (they stated they "wouldn't eat the Zupreem", so I have no idea if that means they are weaned but won't eat the pellets, or they aren't weaned yet, or they are trying to force-wean them, etc.)...I just hope they saw this and stopped all of the human-baby formula immediately, because obviously they had all already reached toxic-levels of Iron if they were all projectile vomiting already...
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Old 12-24-2018, 06:12 PM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

Dang I hope they come back and see!!! Danger no human baby food ! Deadly!!! Great catch Ellen!!!!! I was trying to read only happy stories today so wasn't reading the sick ones posts.. so sad
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Old 12-25-2018, 05:07 AM
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Re: Periodic vomiting

After reading everything written here I guess I need to clarify a few things.

The one that died did so after 6 days of getting him from a breeder at an age of 2 months. At the time we were giving him seeds and baby bird formula that didn't contain Cerelac. He went from healthy to vomiting suddenly while his 6 week old sibling, that we had for 6 days at that point also, had no issues. He now around 9 months old. It turned out that the breeder lost several others in the batch who experienced similar vomiting circumstances several weeks after they were weaned as well.

Edit: As I wrote above, the one that died 8 months ago was vomiting in a completely contrast than what has happened to the two recently and it was clear from the beginning that he was visibly very sick as he couldn't keep anything down until the end a day or so later.

I wrote above that the two that vomited within a span of 2-3 weeks of one another are now around 7 months of age and the one that died 2 months before we got them at 3 weeks of age in the third week of March this year. They weaned fairly quickly, and without issue, around 2 months of age to everything BUT pellets. They absolutely refuse to eat pellets. They'll play with the pellets i.e. crush them but will not swallow them. We've tried several suggested tricks of sweetening or softening the pellets but that makes them no less inedible or unidentifiable as food. The brand we have is Roudybush and, strangely enough, we've given some of the pellets to people we know with other young cockatiels who devour them in full and on the first day that they receive them and at the same age we tried to introduce pellets to our own.

They are seed-a-holics. We've tried removing their seeds and giving them nothing but corn, greens, and pellets during the day. I didn't know about citrus fruit like mango, but they're literally scared of mango, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries etc so no issue with them eating those either way. We only bought the baby bird formula back into their diet 2 months or so ago because we were afraid of them eating nothing but seeds and treating corn, greens, and pellets like chew toys rather than food and suffering from a vitamin/mineral deficiency. Not surprisingly they won't eat the formula as well unless we add about 30-40% Cerelac. Now that said Cerelac makes up literally about 5% of their daily diet or less if weighed against everything else they eat. We're well aware that they shouldn't be eating Cerelac as a staple and I'd go further and say that human babies shouldn't be eating it either.

It has now been 48 hours since the last vomiting episode (3 weeks ago for the other one) and she is sitting on me as I type this. Her droppings look normal and she is her normal crazy 7 month old self.

Last edited by DaBirbs; 12-25-2018 at 06:28 AM.
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