Parrot Droppings

by Sally Blanchard                                                            

- Defecation and urination both occur when the waste matter in the vat above the vent, the cloaca (this word derives from a Latin word for sewer) is passed through the vent. There are 3 parts to a parrot's droppings: 
1. Urine,  the outer liquid waste from the kidneys,
2. Urates, the pasty white or cream-colored part produced by the kidneys
3. Feces the more solid matter - usually greenish or brownish digestive waste.
The color, consistency, and shape of parrot plops are based on what the parrot has been eating so don't worry if it doesn't look like the photos in books. (Even my drawing I am using here is too standard but I included it to show the 3 parts.)

- Droppings are one way to determine the health of a parrot so you should check them on a daily basis. However only parrots on a seed-only diet will exhibit the photos/drawings of a "normal" dropping in most publications because droppings reflect what the parrot has been eating. Many pellets can translate into very solid, clay-like, deadly colorful droppings, especially if fed as a major part of the diet (which they shouldn't be!)

- A parrot on an excellent fresh food diet won't have a consistent dropping from day to day. For example, if your parrot has eaten watery fruit (grapes, apples, melon, etc), his or her droppings will have a higher liquid content. This is not diarrhea but is called polyuria and simply shows that the bird has been eating foods with high water content. If the bird has been eating berries or beets, the droppings will be reddish or purple in color. Don't panic and think it blood in the dropping if the bird has been eating red or purplish foods. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash can give the parrot an orange-brownish color. Some greens will make the color of the dropping a little greener. Sometimes it may be a bit difficult to determine the 3 parts unless you look carefully. The shape can depend on the length of the vent to the poop on the paper. With many parrots the morning plop us usually larger than the daily poops. With my caique, Spikey, I used to be amazed at what came out of him in the morning for the size he was. 

- When pellets first came out I started giving my late great grey, Bongo Marie some of them as a test. I stopped feeding them because I could have used her droppings for modeling clay and she was having trouble passing them. She had been on mashes and fresh foods too long to eat pellets
- Pellets with food coloring are not only very unhealthy and even toxic, but the food dyes will also color droppings in ways that it will be difficult to assess a parrot's health by the color and consistency of their droppings. It has also been shown that food coloring in pellets can compromise the proper digestion and metabolism of nutrients that parrots need to stay healthy. 

- If your parrot has several unusual droppings that are not food-related as discussed above, a consultation with an avian veterinarian is in order. There are a few colors that you need to be aware of because they may mean serious problems but before you think the worst, think for sure if any of the healthy foods you fed could have to do with the changes.
- Tomato-soup colored droppings can signify heavy metal toxicity.
- Black or tar-colored droppings can mean internal bleeding.
- Bright red colored dropping could signify bleeding in the vent or cloaca.
- P
asty lime-green or yellowish droppings can be a sign of psittacosis or liver problems.
- A clay-colored dropping may indicate digestive problems with the involvement of the pancreas.
- Lack of urine can be a sign of dehydration.
- Small shiny crystals in the urates can show kidney/renal problems.
- Parrots shouldn't have to strain to poop. If you have a hen parrot who is straining and produces no waste matter, she could have an egg she is trying to lay. Some hens can become egg bound so check with your vet if her discomfort continues. 
- If the dropping is missing any of the 3 parts, it could also have unhealthy causes if it lasts for more than a few days.
- Lack of urates with mucous in the dropping could indicate a parasite. 
- Bacterial infections can have spidery threads in the urates.
- Most parrot droppings don't have a bad smell but some bacterial infections can make their poop have a bad odor.
- Lumpy droppings that are soft and harder within the feces can be caused by incomplete digestion, which can have several problematic causes.
- If a parrot has undigested seeds or other harder foods in its dropping, a vet visit is in order as it is with the other problematic droppings mentioned above.




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