How often do parrots poop? Have you noticed your parrots pooping consistently multiple times in a day? Many pet owners are concerned because, after all, humans poop approximately once in 24 hours. Why do their birds poop a lot over small intervals, and do their parrots have bowel issues?
Parrots poop a surprising amount. Parrots have a high metabolic rate allowing them to defecate much often. Certain research studies have observed larger bird species pooping around ten to twenty times a day, while small species poop around fifty times.
This article might be much messier (palatability-wise) than the others, but it is interesting. In this story, we will be talking all about the hottest questions you have about bird defecation.
How Often Do Parrots Poop?
How often do parrots poop? Have you seen your parrot poop repeatedly over a single observation period or during a single playtime session? Is such a behavior abnormal, and should you be concerned? Well, do not be too concerned as this behavior is perfectly normal!
As bird owners, it is very tempting to personify our parrots and attribute human actions as a parrot standard.
Humans Vs. Birds
Typically, humans must defecate only a few times a day, and some even go for days before desiring to poop. However, parrots are not too keen on defecating at long intervals.
Parrots have a high metabolic rate, mainly since they use much energy during flight. Moreover, they need to excrete much of their waste before taking off as it can only make flying harder. After all, digestive waste still has weight, and more weight can cause drag and needs more energy to maintain flight.
Typically, smaller birds need to defecate more often as they have less room for waste and smaller wings for supporting weight. On the other hand, larger parrots will defecate less. Do not be misguided; despite pooping less, they will poop more than humans do.
So, how often do parrots poop? Below, we provide a comprehensive list of how much parrots poop in 24 hours. (source)
How Often Does My Parrot Poop?
- Large birds & parrots: ducks, chickens, and macaws feel the need to poop once every hour.
- Medium birds & parrots: parrots such as medium-sized cockatoos need to poop every thirty minutes.
- Small birds & parrots: such as lovebirds, budgies, pigeons, and sparrows, poop once every fifteen minutes.
Why Is Parrot Poop White?
How often do parrots poop, and why are their poops white? Parrots, and birds in general, have a watery, white poop. Regular parrots defecate a liquid excretion of white or green streaks partnered with a colorless liquid.
So what are these green and white streaks, and what is the colorless liquid? For one to answer such a question, it is integral to ask you yet another question. Have you seen birds pee?
Birds produce pee but do not urinate, at least not in a standard way for most mammals. That colorless liquid incorporated with the white and green streaks you see with bird droppings? That liquid is bird pee, completely defecated in conjunction poop. On the other hand, the white and green spots are the actual poop. (source)
However, be aware that the urine in parrots is not the same as that of humans. Unlike most animals, parrots excrete nitrogenous wastes from uric acid, which materializes as a white or green paste. The uric acid content is the main reason cleaning your parrot’s cage or perch is incredibly hard, as it does not dissolve easily with water.
Can Parrots Control When To Poop?
How often do parrots poop, and can a parrot control the frequency and time they defecate? It seems to most of us that parrots defecate with no particular timing, something spontaneous rather than planned. It comes off quickly, and the next thing (especially if your parrot is particularly naughty or nervous), they end up defecating in your hands or your clothes.
The thing with parrots is unlike most animals, they do not have a urinary bladder, and so inherently, they have no means to store liquids we collectively call pee. As such, most parrots tend to defecate when their body releases fluids. However, parrots do have their sphincter muscle, called the cloaca. (source)
Can the cloaca help parrots control their secretion of fluids? Let us study more about the cloaca, shall we? Below, we provide an in-depth discussion about the cloaca: the parrot’s sphincter muscle.
The cloaca is the backend opening of parrots. Unlike humans, which have separate spaces for the urinary tract, reproductive (especially in women) channel, and digestive tract, the cloaca is the parrot’s all-in-one solution responsible for giving birth, peeing, and pooing. Moreover, parrots also mate through the cloaca; the act is called a cloacal kiss. (C. Gans; D. Crews, 1992)
There are misconceptions wherein the cloaca’s opening and closing are uncontrollable; thus, parrots cannot control when to secrete their wastes. However, this is untrue, as empirical evidence says otherwise. For example, there have been multiple reports of parrots choosing not to defecate when they reside on their owner’s hands or laps. On the other hand, some also report their birds choosing to defecate only when they are in their owner’s presence. Nevertheless, both coincide with the main point: that despite the cloaca being a harder-to-control muscle compared to the human sphincter, it is still controllable, even to a certain degree.
There is also evidence that parrots in the wild control their defecation for safety reasons. Certain animals can use bird droppings to trace nests or their location, which might be dangerous when predators are around. Moreover, defecating in mid-air will alert predators. As such, for safety reasons, when parrots are conscious about their area, they tend to hold their poop.
To answer the question earlier, “How often do parrots poop, and can a parrot control the frequency and time they defecate?” we can conclude that birds poop as frequently needed. While they cannot control how often they do it, they can maintain when to do it to a certain degree. The reasoning behind this control is that parrots have a degree of control of their sphincter muscle, despite the control not being as strong as humans. As such, while parrots may come as impulsive defecators, they can be potty trained if desired (to be discussed later).
Why Do Parrots Poop Before Flight?
How often do parrots poop, and why do they prefer to poop before flight? We all have seen a parrot (applicable also to most bird species) bending its way in the opposite direction of the sun to release its poop, which they transcend through flight shortly after. This behavioral pattern has been widely recorded and observed that many try to question why parrots do this. So, why do parrots poop right before flight?
Flying is a labor-intensive process that utilizes a lot of stamina. Parrots will do many things to ensure they are proficient with their energy during flight. Right before the flight, they tend to release all their waste to make themselves lighter. Researchers have reported parrots release up to one-third of their weight through stool. (source)
There are also other hypotheses as to why parrots poop before the flight. These are the following:
Why Do Parrots Poop Before Flight (Hypotheses)
- researchers reported the necessity to poop for energy efficiency reasons
- some researchers have hypothesized the relaxation of the sphincter muscle before a flight as a primary reason
- sure researchers have thought of nausea as a determinant
- there is a strong belief that air pressure changes cause the release of poop before a flight
- a few researchers have considered fatigue as a reason why parrots defecate before flying
Potty Training Your Parrots
How often does your parrot defecate when it is by your shoulder or while it’s perching your hands? Is this scenario quite familiar, and how can you stop your parrot from defecating in inappropriate places? Well, there is always that solution: potty training.
How often do parrots poop, and can you potty train them? Although parrots do not have impeccable sphincter control, unlike humans, they can be potty trained, albeit the whole process is much more complex. Typically, parrots employ some natural potty training, as they instinctively want to avoid defecating in their favorite person’s hands or shoulder. Moreover, some tend to poop on the person they hate the most.
There are apparent tell-tale signs that a parrot is about to “go” and poop. For example, they may exhibit symptoms of being “antsy” and uncomfortable. When this happens, ensure you are ready for your parrot to defecate.
How do we potty train our parrots? A researcher from MIT has found the following tips to be quite helpful. (source)
How To Potty Train Your Parrot: Tips
- Pick your bird up once every few minutes, especially when your parrots feel antsy. Afterward, place them near the decided defecation area (i.e., a litterbox of some sort). Let them go back to the perch multiple times. Repeat this process again and again.
- When your parrot starts to bend over, it is ready to go. When this happens, interrupt your parrot and place them over the desired defecation area.
- If possible, before allowing them to defecate, decide on a short phrase that dictates to them that it is now appropriate to defecate. Make it short and sweet. Parrots have impeccable hearing and can discern human speech.
- If possible, always be consistent. Being inconsistent only adds a degree of confusion.
- Your parrot’s defecation area must not be within the cage. The reasoning is that when not regulated, your bird may associate the cage or the perch as the appropriate area for pooping.
- Be patient. Potty training may last a few days for some, but it can last for months, depending on your parrot. Do not compare your parrot’s performance with other parrots, as this can only agitate you or the other party. Potty training is not a competition.
Does My Parrot Have Diarrhea?
How often do parrots poop? Parrots poop quite a lot, but how much of a lot is “a lot”? When will I know when my parrot has diarrhea? There are tell-tale symptoms of diarrhea, which we will list below. (source)
Symptoms Of Parrot Diarrhea
- dropping looking “bubbly.”
- change of color or texture of poop
- increase or decrease in droppings
- blood or stool
- increase in urine compared to the ratio of stool
Because parrots have watery diarrhea, it might be hard to determine whether it has diarrhea or not. However, in birds, one major determining factor in identifying whether your parrot is suffering from diarrhea is looking at the urine to poop content in the stool. The clear component (urine) severely outclasses the amount of stool (the white or green streaks) during diarrhea.
How often do parrots poop? Parrots poop quite a lot, depending on their size; smaller parrots may poop three to four times an hour, while larger species may poop once to twice an hour. Typically, parrot poop manifests in a watery sheen, with a colorless substance (urine) accompanied by streaks of green and white (the actual poop).
However, most of the time, these ingredients assimilate together to form a white paste-like substance. This substance has a lot of uric acids, making it incredibly hard to remove.
Most of the time, parrots do not think much about when and where to poop. While it is untrue that they cannot control their defecation practices, the amount of muscle agency they have is severely limited due to the nature of the cloaca.
The Importance Of Cloaca
The cloaca is the parrot equivalent to the human’s urinary, reproductive, and digestive openings. It can handle both poop, mating, and urinating. Typically, the cloaca gets relaxed during flight, and as such, parrots poop before the flight. There is also a strong correlation between pooping and flight efficiency, as defecating before the flight can help the parrots travel faster.
You can potty train your parrots by employing several methods. The integral part of reminding yourself about potty training your parrot is to remember to provide consistency. When your parrot is about to defecate, bring them slowly to the designated area for defecation.
- Sebastián-González, E., Hiraldo, F., Blanco, G. et al. The extent, frequency and ecological functions of food wasting by parrots. Sci Rep 9, 15280 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51430-3
- “What Makes Bird Poop White?” Audubon, November 27, 2017. Last accessed July 7, 2022. https://www.audubon.org/news/what-makes-bird-poop-white
- “Can Birds Control Their Bladders and Bowels?”, Mental Floss, last accessed July 7, 2022. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/610776/can-birds-control-their-bladders
- Carl Gans; David Crews (June 1992). Hormones, Brain, and Behavior. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-28124-7.
- “Do Birds Poop While Flying? (+ Other Cool Bird Poop Facts!)”, Outlife Expert, last accessed July 8, 2022. https://outlifeexpert.com/what-birds-poop-while-flying
- “Potty-training Your Bird”, MIT, last accessed July 8, 2022. https://www.mit.edu/~rei/birds-potty.html
- Rick Axelson, DVM “Birds – Abnormal Droppings”, VCAA HOSPITALS, last accessed July 8, 2022. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/birds-abnormal-droppings