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S. August Abbott, CAS
S. August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 9621
Experience:  Work w/Avian Vet; published bird care nutrition& behavior articles; consults, research
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I have a hybrid red bellied/brown headed parrot. Over the

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Hi I have a hybrid red bellied/brown headed parrot. Over the last few days her stools have changed significantly to anything between and pale orange to a pale brown. Her diet hasn’t changed she’s just been on the usual Johnson and Jeff no.1 parrot and had some tomatoes a few days ago. Should I be concerned?
Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. The Expert will know how to help the bird. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the bird?
Customer: No i don’t think so, she’s only 2 years old

Let's go over the science of bird poop. All bird droppings are made up of three parts: Faeces (feces), the solid, central part which can vary in color depending on the food the bird eats.
Urates, the next layer of the ring, which can be cloudy-clear or with shades of white, yellows and greens, again depending on the foods eaten.
Urine is the clear liquid, usually outer layer of the ring. Depending on the amount of fruits and fluids the bird eats/drinks, this can be a significant part of the dropping.
Human companions to birds need to learn what’s normal for their bird. When the bird is healthy, acting fine and eating a well balanced diet, there’s a general look to the droppings that may vary depending on the time of day, but are usually similar looking.
If a bird eats beets (or in this case, tomatoes) one day, the droppings may look frighteningly reddish. Sometimes when the bird eats more dark leafy greens (or blueberries), the droppings can assume a nearly black hue.
When a bird is on a largely seed diet, the feces may be any shade of bright green; pelleted diets without added food colorings would produce a dull, brownish-green. If the bird is eating colored pellets, the droppings may reflect what colors are most often chosen.

One day of abnormal droppings (usually appearing too loose or liquid or off color) is not typically an emergency. As long as the bird is still eating, drinking and acting normally, there’s no change in vocalizations, there is no feather fluffing (looking bigger), staying at the bottom of the cage or excessive sleeping - sometimes a change in droppings is little more than something that will last a few hours and be fine.
If there’s ever red in the droppings and they have no dietary explanation, blood must be suspected and it’s prudent to make an appointment with an avian vet.
If droppings remain abnormal more than 24 -48 hours, please see a vet or have a mobile vet visit your home. It’s far better to have a visit and exam find nothing wrong, than to miss something that with early treatment may insure the bird lives.
Some of the possible causes of abnormal droppings are liver/kidney disease, intestinal disorders or infections, food allergies, poisoning (such as zinc or other heavy metals), parasites, Psittacosis or even stress.
A vet should do a physical exam and may include any one or more of the following: Blood tests, gram stains/cultures, x-rays, even oral/crop/tracheal swabs and so on.
(Ref: Dr Alex Rosenwax, Pres. Australian Avian Veterinary Medical Association (AAVMA) which is a special interest group for avian veterinarians; UC Davis Veterinary Avian Research)

Color Key :

Foods can and do contribute to color in droppings, such as beets, strawberries/raspberries, etc., causing particularly red color; as would birds who tend to select red colored pellets over other colors.

Blue droppings after eating blueberries, dark grapes, plums and so on are to be expected.

Seed eaters produce quite green, bright droppings; pellets, especially the non colored types or a bird that eats a relatively equal amount of each color will have duller green or even brownish droppings.

If food isn’t related to the bright green you see, Chlamydia could be. So might other bacteria, fungus or even viral disease. No time to waste and absolutely no home remedies. There is too much of a chance of progression and liver involvement, at which point you and your bird are facing some very complicated and costly life saving veterinary attention.

Clay color may indicate malabsorption or pancreatic disease.

Some shades of clay, pink or red might also be the results of heavy metal toxicity. You may be surprised at how many sources of zinc and even lead there are around our birds. The quick links we might pick up in hardware stores are one of the biggest offenders. If you hold a magnet to the metals in your bird’s environment and feel a strong magnetic pull, the metal is probably best removed. The ideal metal is stainless steel (no magnetic quality will be felt), although there are some low magnetic items that might be useable under your close scrutiny. If you see your bird chewing on the metals, don’t take chances - if they’re not stainless steel - remove them.

Yellow-Green droppings might be the result of red blood cell break down, which is common with liver disease.

A malnourished or starved bird will produce bile-like droppings.

Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD) often presents with undigested food found in the droppings. PDD is a very serious and heartbreaking disease with poor prognosis, but early intervention these days can sometime add years of quality living to a bird’s lifespan. Even if not, at least knowing will help you prepare and be aware of options you might have to consider.

I know this is a lot of information, but now you can apply it to what you're seeing and make an informed decision as to what you'll do next

Will you let me know how it goes?

S. August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
That’s great! Thank you so much for a detailed response. I’ll keep and eye out and let you know
Thanks again, Elise