Why do parrots open their beak like they are yawning, sometimes over and over again? Are their nares plugged? Do they need water because food is lodged in their throat?
Opening a beak to ‘yawn’ or stretch the neck is a normal behavior in a bird and is often demonstrated just before settling down to roost for a nap. This is different than a bird that is breathing through its mouth because of plugged nares (nostrils) or because of a foreign body. The nostrils are located just above the rim of the beak. In some birds, like the budgie, the nostrils are obvious openings in the cere. In other birds, like the Eclectus, the nostrils are hidden under feathers and in order to view them the feathers must be pushed back. Any discharge from the nostrils can be seen as either a plug in the nare, as causing the feathers around the nare to become greasy, or as a streak down the beak. A bird with an acute foreign body blockage will appear in much greater distress. A bird with a full or distended crop that is trying to regurgitate or vomit typically bobs the head in conjunction with open beak behavior.
Dr. Kerry Korber
Calgary Avian & Exotic Pet Clinic