What do Cockatiel Droppings Look Like, Normal and Abnormal Droppings
By Eleanor McCaffrey Copyright© Notice: No portion of this text or photos
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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.

 Dropping Indicators

  • 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 poisoning. 
  • 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 enough.
  • Yellow or yellow/green urates are symptoms of advanced liver disease. 
  • Yellow urine indicates a bacterial or yeast infection or kidney disease 
  • 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 disease.
  • 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 blockage.
  • 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 and vegetables, 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.
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. 

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 chronic. Chronic polyuria is not normal and it can be a symptom of an diabetes, kidney disease or an infection, (bacterial, viral, fungal 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!

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