Evaluate Your Parrot’s Droppings to See Health Changes

(Bright Eyes health department of Aug/Sept 2014 In Your Flock)

By Dr. Peter S. Sakas

(Editor’s Note: For the August/September 2014 Bright Eyes department, Dr. Peter Sakas shared with readers not only the importance of evaluating parrot droppings on a regular basis, but also what different consistencies in droppings might indicate. Please refer to the article below for great information to help you in catching illness early, and see the additional images that didn’t fit in the Aug/Sept combo issue layout right here.

IYF female eclectus water droppings
Female Eclectus Watery Droppings

First, this picture of a female Eclectus droppings doesn’t give the full story. The parrot’s droppings had a “fishy” smell in addition to the watery consistency evident in this picture. She ate fortified pellets and fresh fruits/vegetables on a daily basis. Her water, which she liked to bathe in, was treated with an anit-fungal supplement from Avitech. Within a few weeks, the strong odor cleared from her droppings. The watery consistency remains when the bird partakes of fruits, which is a phenomenon most parrot owners are probably familiar with. Overall, the parrot is in good health and continues to thrive. Photo courtesy of In Your Flock companion parrot magazine staff.

male eclectus dropping IYF
Male Eclectus Dropping

This next picture is of a male Eclectus dropping, also showing excess water. This bird had been bathing daily and consuming vegetables along with an Eclectus-specific pelleted diet. Notice there is a slightly higher ratio of urates to feces in this sample. The avian veterinarian found no anomalies in the bird’s digestive system. Photo courtesy of In Your Flock companion parrot magazine staff.

sun conure dropping IYF healthy
Sun Conure Dropping

The final image is of a male Sun conure dropping. This healthy dropping is well-formed and a good color for the pelleted diet the bird enjoys. The ratio of feces to urates is acceptable and the urine is well balanced considering the bird had not been consuming fruits that day. Photo courtesy of In Your Flock companion parrot magazine staff.)

One of the most important indicators of the health of your bird is its droppings.

Changes in the droppings are usually one of the early signs of illness in pet birds. You don’t have to make the diagnosis yourself. Understanding that the droppings have changed in some manner should prompt you to seek veterinary assistance and identify a disease condition in an early state, which leads to a much better prognosis.

Ideally you should examine the droppings daily so you can properly evaluate the character and number of the droppings. For example, a parakeet should have 30+ droppings daily, a cockatiel 20+ (yes, I know it seems like they have an endless supply). A reduction in this number could indicate a decrease in eating or an interference with the passage of fecal matter.

Paper on the bottom of the cage is ideal to allow for ease of viewing/evaluating the droppings. If you use corncob bedding or wood shavings on the bottom of the cage, you should have the means to check the droppings, as with these materials it is difficult to visualize the dropping as it becomes mixed in the substrate.

A normal dropping consists of three basic parts: a formed fecal portion, an off white urate (crystal) portion, and a liquid urine portion. The fecal portion is usually green in seed eating birds because seed imparts no color to the droppings allowing the green bile color to predominate. However, if the bird eats foods other than seed the color of the fecal portion will change. For example, a bird eating pellets will have brownish droppings. A bird fed strawberries would have reddish droppings. (See the pomegranate example.)

The consistency of the droppings will vary with the variety of bird and its diet. A bird that eats fruit, vegetables and other succulent foods will have more watery droppings. Pelleted diets, in addition to causing brownish droppings, may also lead to increased water intake and hence more watery droppings with a less formed fecal portion and increased urine.

Droppings that have suddenly changed consistency and color could indicate disease. The amount of fecal portion should be checked. If the bird is not eating, there may be a scant fecal element or a dropping that is mainly urine with a small amount of bile.

One of the important determinations to be made is whether or not the bird is eating. Even though a bird may appear to be in the food bowl it may not be eating. Is seed being hulled or scooped out of the cup onto the floor? Check for seed hulls in the food cup. Sometimes a bird may hull the seed but not ingest it. Hulled, uneaten seeds may be found on the cage floor. This is common in newly weaned parrots that have been taken off formula because the owner thought that the bird was ingesting the seed, but actually only playing with it.

It is normal for a bird to “urinate,” which is when it will pass only liquid urine and urate crystals with no fecal matter. However, this is only an occasional occurrence. If it happens predominantly, a problem exists. Remember that although a reduction in the number of droppings or amount of fecal portion indicates reduced food intake, it may also indicate interference with normal passage of fecal matter, such as with vomiting.

If there is hulled seed on the bottom of the cage, you must determined whether the bird is regurgitating or vomiting. Regurgitation is a normal part of courtship behavior. During courtship, regurgitated seeds may be seen on or near a mirror or toys. However, vomited seeds can be seen in sticky clusters throughout the cage—often adhering to the bars. Further evidence of vomiting is that the head feathers of the vomiting bird are pasted with vomitus, sometimes mixed with seed.

Watery droppings should be carefully evaluated to determine if they are due to gastrointestinal disturbance or increased urine production (polyuria). A somewhat formed fecal portion with an extremely watery urine portion or excessive urate portion may indicate a kidney problem or metabolic problem such as diabetes.

A more liquid consistency in the fecal portion of the droppings is suggestive of an intestinal tract infection. Occasionally, birds with an intestinal disturbance may have a grayish coating on the fecal portion due to excessive mucous. When a bird has pancreatic disease it has characteristic “popcorn” droppings, which are bulky and off white to gray in color. Undigested seed or grit in the droppings is abnormal and could indicate a gizzard malfunction or a disease such as proventricular dilatation syndrome (PDD).

Blood in the fecal portion of the droppings is usually from the cloaca or oviduct. Severe inflammation in the cloaca, ulcerations or tumors may be responsible. Blood may also be seen in female birds encountering difficulty passing eggs. In Amazon parrots and macaws, blood in the droppings could be due to cloacal papillomas, which are of viral origin. Other signs of this condition include straining to defecate and the presence of granulation tissue (appears almost like a strawberry) around the vent and in the cloaca.

The urate portion (urine crystals) should be off white in color. If the urates are yellow or neon green it may serve to indicate hepatitis. The neon green urates may be suggestive of psittacosis. Blood in the urine or urates (to be distinguished from blood in the fecal portion) are indicative of a kidney disturbance or toxicity, particularly heavy metal poisoning such as lead.

If you notice changes in the droppings, contact your veterinarian. It may not always be a disease condition. If it does warrant an examination it is a good idea to bring the bird in its regular, uncleaned cage so that the droppings can be evaluated. If this is not possible, then bring in cage papers with the abnormal droppings or take a photo. Early detection is the key.

Peter S. Sakas, DVM, MS, is an avian veterinarian. For additional information, you can reach Dr. Sakas at the Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center, Niles, Ill., or (847) 647-9325.

Calling All Avian Vets!

A few notes for avian veterinarians…IYF Vet Logo

First, be sure you’ve registered for the North American Veterinary Conference that takes place January 17 through 21, 2015, in sunny Orlando. If you register prior to midnight Tuesday (Oct. 14), you can take advantage of the early-bird price.

Second, this whole week of October 13 through 18 is National Veterinary Technician Week. You can nominate a vet tech whom you admire for an award from the NAVC at the #weheartvettechs site.

Finally, In Your Flock companion parrot magazine has developed a low-cost advertising option for veterinarians only alongside the Bright Eyes health department. For $33 per insertion, you can have a 1/8-page ad in color on the Bright Eyes pages. Contact publisher @ inyourflock . com to reserve your space. (The number of vet ads is limited.)


Read July 2014 IYF Here

July 2014 Companion Parrot Magazine

IYF companion parrot magazine July 2014 cover image
July 2014

As promised in the previous post, here is the link for the July 2014 In Your Flock companion parrot magazine digital edition. Check out the fantastic article about flighted birds and the lovely stories of folks who have adopted happiness in the form of “second-hand” parrots. There’s a ton of information packed into the summer issues, so please take some time to read and absorb and share your comments here with one another while you await the August/September edition. It will reach you soon.

Please keep in mind that the Weigh-in Wednesday page is a free resource for all parrot owners. Publisher Sandy Lender encourages you to take part in this healthy practice for your birds by preparing a contest for all who participate. As the adorable Amazon in the car commercial says, “and here’s the kicker!” We must have 2 dozen (that’s 24) parrot owners participating on a regular basis before Sandy will implement the contest. Now, Sandy has stated she will be one of the 24 to help us get the numbers, but she will not be eligible for the prize (although she is quite stoked about the prize). So make the announcement in your social media groups and bird clubs. We need 24 parrot owners to participate regularly in the Weigh-in Wednesday with their birds so we can get the contest up and running! (it is a free service–free–no cost–no gimmick–you don’t even have to give a bunch of information–it’s all for your bird’s health)

May you all have a great week. Thank you for being part of the flock!

Read June 2014 Issue Here

June 2014 Companion Parrot Magazine

IYF companion parrot magazine June 2014 cover
June 2014

The June 2014 edition of In Your Flock companion parrot magazine mailed quite some time ago. While the link to the digital version is on this site on the Past Issues page, it has come to our attention that we failed to post the update/link in a manner that would have been useful to all you readers!

I’m so sorry for the zaniness. The July issue will be posted in just a moment as well. The August/September issue is going out shortly. The October/November holiday issue will be in your mailboxes by Thanksgiving. So we’re getting back on schedule and increasing page counts and adding some interesting little tidbits for you readers. It’s great to have you in the flock!

Click this link: June 2014 IYF

Feather Facts


IYF FeatherFact 7

In Your Flock companion parrot magazine has 20 Feather Facts available for your use, free of any charge. Contact publisher@inyourflock.com to have them sent to you. This is free for you so you have positive, fun, useful, colorful parrot information to use on your website, blog, facebook page, other social media platforms that matches a brand being used on other parrot-friendly sites. Join the flock of parrot-loving people who spread good messages!


Eggs: Strength and Beauty

Just a quick post for you all:


Check out this quick, easy, informational video about the strength of egg shapes. Cool!

Read April/May 2014 Issue Here

In Your Flock companion parrot magazine April May 2014 digital edition is live

Parrot Magazine Brings Bird Nutrition to Your Pets!

The April/May 2014 edition of IYF has been delivered. The digital edition is available at the following link:

April/May 2014 IYF companion parrot magazine

Check out the information on nutrition and healthy dietary ideas for your pet birds, including good sprouting practices, raw whole food concepts, food foraging tips, and more.

It’s a joy to bring you helpful parrot information to help you improve your pet birds’ lives!

GPE Winners

Companion Parrots Get New Goodies

Vickie Canepa holds her Best in Show award for her Foraging Pocket Natural Bird Toys at GPE 2014
Vickie Canepa, owner of Fetch-It Pets, Inc., holds her Best in Show award for a new bird product at the Global Pet Expo 2014. The Foraging Pocket Natural Bird Toys took the award for her this year.

The April/May 2014 issue of In Your Flock companion parrot magazine announced Vickie Canepa, owner of Fetch-It Pets, Inc., of Westlake Village, Calif., won the big award at Global Pet Expo for the second year in a row. Canepa took the Best in Show first place prize for a bird product at GPE with her new Foraging Pocket Natural Bird Toys.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) announced the new products showcase winners from the 2014 GPE held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., where manufacturers had nine categories in which to market their new products: Aquatics, Bird, Boutique, Cat, Dog, Natural Pet, Reptile, Small Animal and Point-of-Purchase. GPE attendees voted during trade show hours to determine which products would get top honors. For the second year in a row, Canepa has designed the item bird enthusiasts like best.

Canepa established her company in 2000 and has her own factory in the Philippines where her toy designs are produced. This year’s award-winning design comes in a variety of sizes with a multitude of shreddable bits for beaks to forage and pull out of the web-like pockets. Owners can stuff treats and toys into the pockets as well to enhance or reuse the pockets.

In Your Flock staff recommend the Foraging Pocket Natural Bird Toy for feather-pluckers. Observe your parrot to see where he or she has his or her destructive preening sessions and place the toy in that area of the enclosure. As you would with any new toy, watch for signs of misuse and make sure your bird doesn’t get toes tangled in stray foraging material. Safety is always No.1!

Congratulations to all the winners in the bird category!

Best in Show: Fetch-it-Pets

Second Place: a&e Cage Co. LLC with All Natural Java Wood Bird Toys

Third Place: Wingscapes with Wingscapes BirdCam Pro

Be sure to check out the June product issue of In Your Flock to see the Wingscapes BirdCam Pro “in action.”


Plant Parrot Safety for Summer EXTRA

In Your Flock companion parrot magazine recommends the safe bottlebrush branch for the outdoor aviary
Bottlebrush makes an excellent foraging branch for the aviary.

The article appearing in the April/May 2014 issue of In Your Flock companion parrot magazine offered a handful of safe plant options for your outdoor (or indoor) pet bird enclosures. Here is the additional list of places where you can find safe and toxic plant names. These resources were active and filled with good info for you to peruse as of press time, and the staff at In Your Flock encourages you to check them out and compare the plant names from one to another. As many horticulturists will warn you, the scientific name for a plant is the most precise way to identify a plant; be sure you feel confident in the product you purchase or the seed you plant when growing or nurturing an item to place within reach of precious beaks. Your birds rely on you to keep them safe.

Exotic Edibles’ tropical plant list at bit.ly/1j2dFU3

Holistic Bird at bit.ly/VkkXrv

Land of Vos at bit.ly/1pMUTmr

Organic farming options/ideas at bit.ly/1kkwLPW

Planned Parrothood at bit.ly/1lBLQ1w

Dice in a Fig for Your Parrot

In Your Flock Shares Eclectus Diet Ideas
Winston Eats Stuff He Likes

Your companion parrot might not instantly go for new foods, but there are plenty of ways to introduce those new goodies. We’ve shared all kinds of chopped-up vegetable varieties and foraging tips in In Your Flock magazine, but let’s look at what to do when you have something the bird just doesn’t like.

Eclectus parrots need more fiber than some other pet bird species, so I would like for Winston the feather-plucking Eclectus to get some fresh figs into his diet. He hates them. While checking out the conversations at Eclectus Parrots group on facebook, I noticed one of the ladies had mixed oatmeal and dried figs into a well-blended soupy breakfast that her Eclectus loves. I tried it out with a sweet potato.

In Your Flock Eclectus Parrot Food Ideas
IYF Publisher Sandy Lender cuts a clean sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are an excellent item to add to your parrot’s diet.

1.Thoroughly scrub and clean 1 medium sweet potato; microwave it for about 1 minute and then cut it into reasonable chunks for the food processor; chop the sweet potato chunks into tiny diced bits

2.Thoroughly clean and cut the stems off of 5 fresh Turkish brown figs and cut them into halves or quarters; add to the diced potato in the food processor

3.Pour about ¼ cup of coconut water or almond milk into the food processor

4.Cover and chop everything until it’s all diced and mixed thoroughly

Serve it up! I refrigerated the majority of the mix and the birds were still happy with it the next day—including Winston. The point is that you can take something you know your bird likes—such as the sweet potato and coconut water—and sneak in the extra item that you need to get into his diet with a little blending. The result doesn’t have to be a soup-like consistency. The diced and mixed blend I came up with for Winston, which also pleased my African greys very much, still had some crunch to it.

What special ingredient would make this treat enticing to your parrot?