Bird droppings is a topic that can evoke
different feelings for different people. Bird lovers will have a sense of humor
and laugh at the green and brown polka dot they find on the back of their shirt
when they arrive at work in the morning. For others, droppings are seen as a
major inconvenience. "Oh no, the sofa has been ruined! I have to change my
shirt, clean the rug and wash the cage grate AGAIN!" For non bird lovers,
droppings are disgusting and dirty, prompting remarks like, "How could you
let that bird walk on the kitchen table?" Fortunately for birds, educated
bird lovers know that the most significant aspect of droppings is that they are
true looking glass that reflect the general health and well being of a bird. A
change in droppings is often one of the first indicators that a bird is sick and
as we all know, prompt medical intervention gives sick birds the best chance of
making a full recovering.
The droppings of a healthy bird will have a firm, solid,
coiled shape appearance, with some clear liquid. A healthy cockatiel's
droppings will also be odorless. Because birds excrete urine and feces at the
same time, their droppings have 3 distinctly, visible parts.
- Feces, the solid matter, are coiled, reflecting the shape of a bird's intestines.
- Urates, by products of protein digestion and metabolism that is removed by
the kidneys. Urates will be opaque, white or cream colored.
- Urine, the watery waste from the kidneys, will be a colorless liquid.
Normal and Abnormal Color Change: The solid part of normal
droppings can change
colors depending on what foods you bird has eaten. Seed eaters will have green
droppings. Birds that eat pellets, a brown/tan colored dropping. Birds eating brightly colored
pellets, bright orange or
dark green vegetables like carrots or spinach can have droppings that
reflect the food they have eaten. A bird's urine should
always be clear and colorless and urates should always be white. If a color change is noticed in the urine, your bird is sick
and needs to be taken to an avian vet. Sometimes the coloring
from solid matter will run into urine on cage papers, making what should be
clear, look colored. If you think there has been a color change in urine or
urates, put waxed paper on the bottom of your bird's cage to see the color
more accurately. Urates
and urine in a fresh dropping should remain unchanged on waxed paper. The
appearance of your bird's droppings can vary from time to time due to stress or
diet and still be considered normal. Each bird is an individual so what's normal
for one bird may not be normal for another bird. Any noticeable change in color,
volume or consistency could be one of the first signs of an illness.
Contact your avian vet immediately.
It's important for you to check your bird's droppings everyday so you will know
what is normal for your individual bird. Any change in color or consistency that can not
be attributed to food should be checked by your avian vet.
- Urates should always be white and urine should always be clear.
- Yellow or green urates indicate liver disease.
- Birds that are eating seeds will
most likely have green droppings.
- Birds that are eating pellets will have larger brown/tan/colored droppings.
- Black or fresh,
bright red blood in droppings are both signs of bleeding from the
digestive tract, intestinal infections, tumors, ingestion of a foreign
object, parasites or egg binding.
- Bright lime green or yellow colored urates indicate Chlamydiosis, (Psittacosis or Parrot
Fever). Chlamydiosis can be transmitted to humans.
- Red or reddish brown droppings indicate heavy metal
- Bright red blood in droppings indicate bleeding from the lower digestive
tract. the cloaca, from egg laying or tumors--()(picture above--also has
blackish red blood clots.) Bright red blood can sometimes be seen if the
clots are broken up with a toothpick. Even a small amount of blood lost
daily will cause a bird to become very weak within a few days and can cause
death if not treated quickly. Contact your avian vet immediately.
- Black, tarry droppings can also indicate bleeding in the upper digestive tract.
- Dark black droppings, can actually be dark moss green-spread with
toothpick to determine color. Dark moss green indicates that excessive
amounts of bile are being produced by the liver.
- Tiny, scant black droppings indicate anorexia--the bird is not eating
- Yellow or yellow/green urates are symptoms of advanced liver disease.
- Yellow urine indicates a bacterial or yeast infection or
- Bubbles in droppings indicate gas or an infection.
- Undigested food (seeds/pellets) in droppings is a symptom of PDD, (Proventricular
Dilatation Disease) poor digestion, parasites, an intestinal infection or pancreatic
- An increase in bulkiness or volume of droppings indicate egg
laying or poor digestion.
- A decrease in the size or amount of droppings or tar like, small, scant, dark feces
indicate that a bird is not eating or that there may be an intestinal
- Increased urine indicates stress, a diet high in fruits/vegetables,
ingesting water while bathing, infections, diabetes or kidney disease.
- Decreased urine indicates dehydration.
- Diarrhea does not coil like a normal dropping and it's a symptom of a digestive disorder, infection, disease, parasites, egg laying, abdominal hernia, cancer,
over treatment with antibiotics, ingestion of a foreign object or poisoning.
Diarrhea will often stick to the vent and tail feathers.
- Watery droppings, (polyuria) indicate stress, a diet high in fruits
swallowing a large quantity of water while bathing, a bacterial, fungal or
parasitic infection, diabetes or kidney diseases.
- A complete absence of droppings indicates egg binding in females, an
intestinal blockage, tumors and diarrhea that may have dried up and covered
the vent opening. Hold your bird and check the vent to make sure a
massive amount of droppings have not caked over the vent and surrounding
feathers. If it has, gently remove as much as you can with a Q-Tip or wet 3"
gauze pad. If this doesn't help, run warm water over the vent (under
the faucet) to loosen and clean the area. Dry the area with a soft towel and
keep the bird warm until feathers are dry. (This happened to Mama Bird
during the final weeks of his life.) Contact your vet immediately because
your bird has true diarrhea.
Watery Droppings: Watery droppings
contain an excessive amount of urine and the condition itself is called polyuria.
Stress and other
conditions can effect the consistency and water content of a birds
droppings. It's normal for birds to have watery droppings if they are, frightened, stressed, on diets high in watery fruits and vegetables or if they
have swallowed a large amount of water while bathing. Under the
above, normal circumstances, temporary polyuria lasts anywhere from
1 minute, with a single dropping or it can last a day or two. If polyuria lasts more than 2 days the condition is considered
polyuria is not normal and it can be a symptom of an diabetes, kidney disease or
an infection, (bacterial,
or parasitic) If your bird has watery droppings for more than 2 days, he needs to be taken to an avian
vet for a diagnosis and treatment.
There's a noticeable difference between polyuria and diarrhea. True diarrhea looks like splattered pea soup.
It has no shape and it will usually stain or stick to feathers around the vent and tail
area. Polyuria does not stain or stick to feathers. If a dropping has
pieces of visible shapes present, it's not diarrhea. Diarrhea is not normal and it's always
a symptom of
a sick bird with a digestive disorder, an infection, a
disease, parasites, an abdominal hernia, cancer,
over treatment with antibiotics, ingestion of a foreign object or poisoning.
Get into the habit of monitoring your bird's droppings everyday. Once you know
what's normal for your bird, you will be able to identify normal and abnormal
changes in color and consistency of your bird's droppings. If you bird has
abnormal droppings for more than a day or two, call your avian vet. Sick birds need to be taken to avian vets immediately. If you don't have an
avian vet and live in the USA or Canada, you should
be able to find one here CLICK HERE
Thank you to all who shared photos of
their birds with us!