Abnormal Droppings

General Information
While not usually specific for any one particular disease, a change in the color, frequency, volume, smell, or texture of droppings indicates a problem that requires immediate veterinary attention. To monitor the droppings, the bottom of the cage needs to be covered in paper (newspaper is fine), not bedding.

Change the papers EVERY day. If there great accumulations of droppings, it becomes hard to notice if there are any changes.

What are the components of a normal dropping?

There are three components to the droppings. The first is the fecal component. For most pet birds, this is a green to dark green solid part of the droppings. The second component is the urates, a semisolid white material that consists of concentrated urine. Birds have adapted this form of urine so that they can conserve moisture. Therefore, if your bird drinks a lot of water or eats moist foods, the urates may be less prominent or even absent. The urates should be white. Alterations of color, particularly a lime- green color, can indicate serious blood or liver disorders. The third component, is a clear, liquid urine. Again, if a bird is well-hydrated and consumes more moisture, the urine will be higher in volume. It is important for owners to become familiar with their bird’s normal droppings, as evaluation of the droppings is an important clue to illness in pet birds.

What is an abnormal dropping?
Simply put, once you get used to your bird’s droppings, any deviation from what the normal droppings look like are abnormal for your bird and should prompt a call to your veterinarian. Typical abnormalities may include:

Small, dark, gooey fecal component. This means that the bird is not eating. If your bird is not eating (e.g., no food overnight) this can be normal. Offer your bird its usual diet and if it eats and the droppings return to normal, it is not a concern.

Loose or highly segmented fecal component. Normally a pet parrots feces should be a formed, tubular coil within the other liquid components. Certain foods may temporarily cause loose stool formation (e.g., fruits or very watery foods). If this trend continues after resuming consumption of normal foods, consult your veterinarian.

Greenish urates. This can indicate that red blood cells or liver cells are being damaged. Some common conditions that cause this include Chlamydophila infection (aka, Psittacosis), lead intoxication, and trauma or bruising. This should not be confused with bile in the feces, which is a dark emerald green and is normal during periods of digestive rest (e.g., overnight emptying). Discolored urates will be lime green throughout, not just in flecks or drops.

Bubbly droppings. This means that excessive gas is being produced. Straining or constipation.

​Bloody droppings.

Excessive urine (called polyuria). This can happen temporarily if eats wet foods, bathes, or drinks a lot of water. It will also occur temporarily when a bird is excited or stressed. If it continues over several hours, especially after resuming normal diet and activity, it may be a concern. While most owners state that their birds have diarrhea, true diarrhea is rare in birds. The most common sign of abnormal droppings in birds is actually polyuria.

What causes abnormal droppings?
Many diseases can cause a change in the droppings. Diet also influences the droppings. If for example, you’ve decided to give your bird a few blueberries, its droppings will probably be blue or purple for a short period of time. Assuming that the diet has remained constant, common causes of abnormal droppings includes intestinal diseases, kidney disease, liver diseases, bacterial or viral infections, and parasite infections.

How will your veterinarian know what caused the abnormal droppings?
Your veterinarian can run a variety of tests, including blood tests and radiographs (X-rays) to try to determine if any internal diseases have caused the abnormal droppings. The droppings can also be evaluated for parasites of yeast and bacteria.