Ask a Bird Specialist. Get Answers to Bird Care Problems ASAP
When I hear about the symptoms of ‘toe tapping’, I immediately think of an Eclectus, probably one of the most common toe tappers in the parrot world. It does, however, occur in any and all other parrots as well.
By itself, this symptom may be nothing. With all the research done over all the years, when an organic or physical reason isn’t found, often there isn't an explanation.
Toe tapping is often accompanied by wing flipping – where the bird holds the wings down slightly to the sides and quickly gives them a snap or flutter.
Again, if these are the only symptoms and they are not constant, they are probably not indications of serious disease. The first step you need to take though is a hands on examination by your vet. If you don’t have a vet, now is the time to get one. It’s much more desirable to have a vet in place when it’s not an emergency than trying to find one when it is. Believe me, these emergencies will occur in the middle of the night, on a weekend or holiday and it’s nice to have someone who knows your bird and who might open their office for you.
Now, let’s consider some of the organic and physical causes of this syndrome:
If your bird is on (or has been on) a predominantly seed diet, there may have been an overdosing of certain additives that manufacturers add to their products, as well as a deficiency of vitamins and nutrients necessary for a healthy bird. No matter what the claim on the packaging is, seed blends are 'junk food' for birds.
Birds in the wild don’t eat strictly seeds, and those that do eat a lot of this high fat food get a huge amount of exercise with nearly constant flying in their search for more and a variety.
Calcium foods include broccoli, dark greens like chard, spinach, beet tops, Brussels sprouts and even some natural (no additives) yogurt now and then.
Check this out for a huge number of options in feeding, including how to get a bird off seeds and on to pellet based food, just in case your bird is a seed eater Click here
Other possible causes for toe tapping in some birds is a mating behavior (trying to attract a mate, get attention); sometimes a bird will do this when frightened or expressing their territory (a bird that is recently sexually mature might do this more than others); in much less common cases, there may be a tumor or neurological condition present – which is another excellent reason why a full physical is a good idea.
The botXXXXX XXXXXne here though is that from your description, not just the toe tapping, but the spasms - your little companion is more likely suffering a nutritionally related episode.
Other frequently found sources of this symptom would be a tumor somewhere inside the bird pressing on nerves causing what you're seeing or several different diseases.
Probably the first thing your vet will do is an X-ray and bloodwork to check calcium levels and perhaps a heavy metal profile as well.
In the meantime, check the food options out and you might find a quick result.
Don't put off the vet visit though, even if the bird seems fine. All it means is that the bird has gotten a 'second wind' and is strong enough to hide the symptoms. By the time you see them again (and nearly 100% chance that you will) it will be a problem further along and much more difficult to treat.