By Dr. David J. Kersting,
D.V.M. reprinted courtesy of American Cockateil Society
Understanding your birdís droppings could save your birdís
It is true that when a bird becomes sick that their health
can deteriorate quickly. But itís rarely true that when a bird
become sick, it dies suddenly without showing symptoms of illness.
The symptoms are there, we just have to learn how to recognize
Changes in the droppings can be a very early indicator that
the bird is sick. Know what normal droppings look like so you
can recognize a change in color, consistency, odor, and/or amount.
Use paper at the bottom of the cage so that the dropping falls
flat and clean onto the paper. This will enable you to recognize
any changes in color, consistency, odor, and/or amount. If you
are able to notice this change you could save your birdís life.
If you use wood shavings at the bottom of your cage and you
miss a change in color and consistency in the droppings then
you failed your bird. It is wrong to use wood shavings at the
bottom of your cage so that it looks nice and you do not have
to clean the bottom of your cage as often if it interferes with
evaluating the droppings for signs of health problems.
There are three components to most droppings. Urine consists
of a crystal urine called urates (white chalky material) and
a non-crystal urine called urine (clear water). Sometimes the
two types of urine are mixed creating a cloudy white urine.
Important changes include color changes and amount.
Green or Yellow Urates: Liver Disease Anorexia
Brown or Chocolate Urates: Lead Poisoning
Red Urine or Urates: Internal Bleeding
Increased Urates: Dehydration
Eating food high in water
Drinking a lot
The third part of the droppings is the feces which comes from
the colon and consists of digested food. The color varies depending
on the types of food eaten. Red pellets and strawberries produce
a red colored dropping. (This does not apply to the urine.)
Seed and green vegetables produce a green dropping. (This does
not apply to the urine.) Blueberries and blackberries produce
black droppings. The feces should be solid and tubular like
a worm. It can be coiled up or uncoiled and it is okay if it
is broken into pieces.
Diarrhea is not excessive urine in the droppings. Diarrhea
is the fecal material not holding its tubular shape. Instead
it is the consistency of pudding. Look for blood in the feces.
If the feces is fresh and black in color and there were no blueberries
in the diet then this indicates melena. Melena is black droppings
caused by bleeding high up in the digestive system. When the
blood passes through the lower digestive system, it is digested
turning the red blood into a black tarry color, staining the
Color which cannot be explained by the diet should be investigated
by your veterinarian. Donít forget to look for real worms like
tapeworms and roundworms.
If you notice black droppings (indicating internal bleeding)
at the bottom of your birdís cage, stop and go to your veterinarian.
If you wait until the bird is weak, not eating, and fluffed
up, then you have a race against the clock to save the birdís
Watch your birdís droppings everyday and learn what they look
like normally. When you notice a change, identify what portion
of the dropping has changed. If you cannot explain the change
by the birdís lifestyle then act immediately and contact your