The Male White-Fronted Parrot Vomits in the Female’s Mouth During Their Mating Ritual

Daven Hiskey 8
Today I found out the male White-fronted Parrot will vomit in the female’s mouth during their mating ritual

White-fronted Parrots, also known as “White-fronted Amazons” or “Spectacled Amazon Parrots”, begin their mating season around February and it lasts through June or July. (Although, this varies based on region. In some regions, their breeding season doesn’t even start until November.)

After selecting a suitable partner, the two parrots will begin “kissing” one another, locking their beaks and playing with each other’s tongues, making these birds one of the few animals to engage in kissing. As the kissing session drags on, the male will eventually vomit into the female’s mouth.

While female giraffes urinate in the male’s mouth before mating in order for the male to determine if the female is an appropriate mating partner, the male parrot vomiting in the female’s mouth isn’t thought to serve any such purpose.  Rather, it is thought that the male is simply giving the female a gift, by regurgitating food into her mouth.  Yummy!

After mating, the female will typically lay about 3-4 eggs which incubate for about 26 days before hatching.

If you liked this article and the Bonus Facts below, you might also like:

Bonus Facts:

  • Other interesting animal mating practices include that of the Bonobo monkey, which is one of nature’s most free-loving animals.  They find reasons for mating in even the most trivial occurrences, sometimes even just as a way to say “Hi”.  They don’t bother restricting themselves to partners that are of mating age, opposite gender partners, or even non-family members.  Everybody is fair game, excepting that males will not mate with their mothers.  This frequent mating is often used as a way to resolve conflict, which otherwise would have been resolved through violence, making the Bonobo a fairly peaceful species, so long as the mother-son pairing is maintained (the male’s establish their “rank” in the society based on their mother’s position).  In captivity where the mother and sons are often separated, the male’s sometimes will become violent as in many other species of monkey.
  • The female Bonobo practice of mating with one another is thought to be done as a form of bonding.  This is critical as the male Bonobos are physically larger and stronger than the females, but because the females are closely bonded and will work together, they are able to dominate their groups, making Bonobo monkeys a matriarchal society.
  • Like the White-fronted Parrot, the Bonobo monkey is also one of the few animals that engage in kissing during mating.  In this case, like the White-fronted Parrot and humans, they will often French kiss.
  • The Brown Antechinus is a little mousy marsupial from Australia that spends as many as 5-14 hours per mating session with multiple partners during the mating season, which lasts about two weeks.  This carefree love making has a price for the male though.  This miniscule male marsupial manically mates so much over the course of the two week mating season that they die from immune system collapse, internal bleeding, stress, and other complications due to their raucous love making.  The sad part is that many don’t even end up fathering any children as the females mate with so many different males in a short span that there is a high amount of competition among the sperm for a small number of eggs.
  • Another slightly bizarre mating practice is that of the Black Widow (Latrodectus).  As you might guess from what that moniker has come to describe in females of other species, the Black Widow will sometimes decide to kill and then eat their mating partners after the deed is done.  They are able to kill their mates, rather than the other way around, thanks to the fact that their venom is approximately three times stronger than their male counterparts, leaving the male at a great disadvantage in a fight with a female.  This fact is also why male latrodectus spiders aren’t typically dangerous to humans, but females are, though not typically fatal with proper medical care.
  • The Praying Mantis females also like to murder their mates when in captivity or when hungry.  The female Praying Mantis will bite off the head of the male during mating, usually just before the male dismounts, which increases the amount of sperm delivered.
  • Contrary to popular belief, many scientists do not think the female Praying Mantis will commonly eat the male when in the wild, though some instances of this have been observed.  In captivity, if closely watched (mantises being highly visual creatures), they’ll tend to bite the heads off of the male’s and eat them.  When not being directly observed (video taped instead) and otherwise left alone in captivity and fed ample amounts of food, many types of female mantises seem to be inclined to not eat their partners and the male will even exhibit courtship dances.
  • Male mantises that are going to attempt to mate with females that are hungry seem to be able to sense this, as they’ll approach much more cautiously and will stay mounted on the female longer and dismount with great caution (as mentioned, when the male’s about to dismount is when the female will usually attempt to bite the male’s head off).  So the male mantis mating with a hungry female will often wait for an opportune moment to dismount, which maximizes the chances of getting away.
  • African Grey Parrots have been shown to be able to not only speak, but to understand what the words they are saying mean, even able to form simple sentences.  Many parrots are also quite skilled at solving puzzles, using tools, and doing basic math.  One such African Grey, N’kisi, has even learned a vocabulary of over 1000 words, including having the ability to use the correct tense when using the words.
  • While parrots can often be taught to talk, they don’t actually have vocal cords.  They make sounds by pushing air across their bifurcated tracheas, changing the sound by changing the shape of their trachea and force of the air expelled.
  • Alexander von Humboldt in the 19th century once encountered an old parrot that was the sole living speaker of recently dead Native American language.
  • Before parrots were called parrots, they were called “popinjay”.  It isn’t entirely clear where the word “parrot” came from.  It first popped up in the 16th century, possibly from the Middle-French “perrot” from “Pierre” (Peter).
  • The word “parakeet” first popped up in the 17th century, ultimately probably from the Old French “paroquet” from the Italian “parrocchetto”, meaning “little priest”.
  • White-fronted Parrots are highly intelligent, playful birds that grow to about 10-ish inches long (25 cm) and live from 40-60 years.  Males have bright red feathers around their alula (shoulder), while female’s have green feathers there.  Besides this, they are fairly indistinguishable from one another.  They are native to Mexico and Central America and are highly affectionate birds that will readily bond with humans (often a single human, not unlike how they would bond with a mate, watch out for the vomit if they try to kiss you!) ;-)  Even in the wild, they tend not to be afraid of humans, often letting humans walk right up to them.
  • White-fronted Parrots are also fairly good talkers, able to imitate about 30-40 different sounds, with most readily being able to pick up words, if properly trained.  They also love to play and love to be the center of attention.  Because of how much attention they like and the fact that they tend to bond to a single person, many don’t consider them the best of pets, despite how affectionate they can be.  Another downside to keeping them as pets is that they tend to go through a few year period where particularly the males can become extremely aggressive as they go through their hormonal bluffing stage.  Although, before and after this, they tend to be very cuddly and mild mannered, excepting being slightly more aggressive than normal during breeding season.  During the bluffing stage though, they can and will attack, if they get the chance and the mood strikes, biting and scratching you with their powerful beaks and claws.
  • Parrots in general, to which White-fronted Parrots are no exception, love to chew on things, including electric wires.  So they can be very destructive to furniture, and even accidentally burn down your house from chewing on the wires, if not properly trained and given ample chewing toys.
  • White-fronted Parrots who aren’t getting enough attention and social interaction will become depressed and sometimes begin adopting self destructive behavior, including self inflicted bodily harm.
  • There are approximately 372 known species of parrots in the world.
  • Parrots have touch receptors embedded on the inner edges of their bill, known together as the “bill tip organ”.  Among other things, this helps them position nuts and seeds just so in their mouths in order to efficiently crack them.  Once they crack the shell, they use their tongue to discard the husk and extract the seed inside.  This mouthal dexterity is also extremely important in the case of seeds which would otherwise be poisonous.  In these cases, the parrots will carefully remove the poisonous bits, often the outer portion of the seed, to get at the more palatable inside.  Many parrots will also consume clay to help keep poisons from being absorbed by their digestive tract.
  • Parrots are typically right or left footed, much like humans are generally right or left handed.  They can also use their feet with an incredible amount of dexterity, not unlike we humans use our hands.
  • Parrots will generally very strongly bond with one mate and are monogamous breeders.  Even outside of the breeding season, they often will stick with the mate they have bonded with.
  • For most kinds of parrots, the female will typically stay with the nest during the incubation period.  The male will then go out and acquire food for himself and the female.

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8 Comments »

  1. RC September 16, 2012 at 2:49 am - Reply

    Parrots have crops, the first stage of their digestive process, where the chewed food is deposited but is not being digested yet. The food from this area is what is regurgitated to chicks and, apparently, potential mates.

  2. Bruce Byfield July 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    1. By “white fronted parrot,” you mean “white fronted Amazon.”

    2. Since the food comes from the crop in their throat, the proper term is “regurgitation,” not “vomit.”

    3. Female parrots also regurgitate to their mates, but less so than male parrots do.

    4. Regurgitation is the way in which parrots feed a mate sitting on eggs and new-born chicks. Its role in mating seems to be a practical demonstration of a bird’s ability to help raise chicks.

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