Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping

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My friend’s cockatiel recently pooped blood. He was so worried when he called me for help.  But, I had no idea! I wasn’t sure what it meant. So, I decided not to remain unaware for long. I took out my phone and decided to know all about it. Here is what I found.

Do cockatiels poop a lot?

Cockatiels do poop a lot. A normal adult male poops every 15 to 20 mins. The younger ones are even nastier with a baby cockatiel pooping every 5 mins or so.

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 1

Babies have very little control over their bladder and hence they poop more than adults. You can expect cockatiels over the age of 6 months to start pooping in normal intervals.

Poop is one of the easiest ways to understand your bird’s health. If you understand how to read it, you can be a great parent to your lovely bird. Keep reading on to be just that!

Why do cockatiels poop so much

Cockatiels are small birds and small birds generally poop more than larger ones. They have a rapid metabolic system that makes them do that.[1] This is an evolutionary feature developed in birds to reduce weight during flight and avoid flight time pooping problems.

Other parrots species like lorikeets have been timed by researchers to have an intestinal tract, including the digestion system, of 15 mins. This is why cockatiels are prone to poop in such tiny intervals.

Do cockatiels poop everywhere?

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 2

 

Thanks to Reddit user u/Razlyk

Cockatiels poop everywhere. They can poop in their cage, in their food dish, in their playing areas and on your clothing as well. Tiels loves to poop everywhere they can.

Cockatiel poop is normally odorless hence even after so much pooping they shouldn’t be a problem for smell-picky folks.

 

How do you clean cockatiel poop?

The best way to clean cockatiel poop is to let it dry and then use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water to cleanse it off. You can also use some baby wipes for this. 

If your cockatiel has pooped on your clothes, don’t rub. Take a paper towel and let it rest with it for a few mins. Fresh poop is quite easy to clean. The paper will absorb the moisture and the poop will be easily off your clothes.

In case it has hardened, you can use a slightly moist paper and let it remain there for 5-10 mins. The moisture should soften the poop and then you can take it off.

How to keep cockatiels from messing your home

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping

If you want your house to be clean, cover your beds with a plastic sheet. You can place a perch where you want them to poop. Some tiel parents also teach their birds to poop where they want but accidents can still happen. You can use bird diapers but they are also not completely accident free.

Some owners also place newspapers on the ground to keep the poop at minimum and use baby wipes to clean the rest when it gets dry.

Some tips to reduce the poopiness caused by cockatiels:

1. Get clothing bags from the dollar store and use them on chairs. 

You will need to cut them in half to use on both chairs. They are super easy to apply and super easy to wipe out.

2. You can use shower caps to cover lamps and lighting. 

But, make sure to remove them when you turn the lamp on as that could be a fire hazard.

3. Use paper towels in places where the tiel likes to play and poop.

This will save your medicine cabinets from being ridden with bird poop.

4. Use plastic covers to cover all other furniture.

Buy a big size roll of plastic table covers from kitchen supply stores or online (like these). These will cover almost all areas where your tiel likes to hang out.

5. Keep a spray bottle and tissue cover handy in every room.

You can use them to quickly wipe out the droppings. Easy peasy!

6. Have hardwood floors instead of carpets.

Hardwood floors are easy to wipe out but not carpets.

7. Cover laptop with keyboards with their separate covers.

Birds like cockatiels can mess up your pricey electronics quickly. So, keeping them covered up while they are off is the best you can do.

You need to clean the cage, trays every day, probably in the morning. Cockatiels are wonderful birds but they also require some maintenance. In case you want to know more about that, read our cockatiel buying guide here.

Recommended products for cleaning bird poop

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping

Poop off spray courtesy northernparrots.com

Recommended products to remove cockatiel poop with ease are nature wipes (check hereand poop off spray (listed here). Nature wipes are excellent and 1 wipe can work for a week. 

In case you can’t afford nature wipes, baby wipes (like these) are cheap and can work as well.

Another no-cost homemade solution is to use 50:50 vinegar/water in a spray bottle to clean stains with any disposable/washable cloth.

Besides keeping clean, having a good vacuum with hepa filter is a must. Birds poop, if ingested for long, can be dangerous for lungs.[2]  

I found this reasonable vacuum with hepa filter on amazon. 

How many times a day does a cockatiel poop?

The frequency of a cockatiel’s poop is high. They poop every 15 mins and so in a day the number of times they poop can be in hundreds. But, as cockatiels sleep long, the numbers slow down a bit.

Read more about cockatiel sleeping habits here.

Why does my cockatiel poop in his food?

Cockatiels don’t have a system like ours to hold poop. Hence they poop wherever they are. Eating area/bowl is a common place for a tiel to be and hence they poop in their food.

You can stop this by buying a covered food dish/plastic hooded bowl (like this one) for their food where the bird can’t fit. When it’s not able to fit in, it wont poop there either.

The contact areas of the food dish will become messy after sometime but at least they won’t eat a feed infested with poop and pee.

Can you toilet train a cockatiel?

Cockatiels can be potty/toilet trained. However it will not be like training a cat or a dog. Parrots cannot hold poop for long and hence prospective trainers should keep that in mind.

Anyways, when we are at it. Let’s try our best.

How to potty/toilet train a cockatiel

Here are a few simple steps you can use to potty/toilet train your cockatiel. Remember these are not perfect as cockatiels can’t hold their poop for long.

1. Buy a baby cam and notice your cockatiel’s movements before it poops.

You can see an affordable baby cam listed here.

This will allow you to understand what signs the bird shows before it wants to excrete.

Once you understand the signals, move to the second step.

Common signs include squatting and parting of their bottom feathers.

2.  Whenever the bird shows pre-poop signals, place it in the pooping spot.

Place the bird wherever you want it to poop; be it a paper towel, plastic bag, perch or anything else.

3. Wait for the bird to poop and repeat a phrase.

You can use phrases like “poop now,” “bombs away,” etc. 😀

Don’t use common phrases used in everyday talk as those could result in unwanted accidents.[3] Talk in bird talk.

You can use this phrase as an associative behavioral cue. This will create a signal in the bird’s mind that it’s time to let things out.

4. Praise the bird profusely and give treats when it does the job right.

5. Rinse and repeat.

It will not be a one time thing. Be patient!

You have to repeat this till the bird learns. Birds are intelligent creatures and they can even learn complex puzzles so learning to poop isn’t a pretty big thing to do .

Note: Extremity in any case is not a good thing. Some bird magazines have warned that teaching birds to poop only at the spots you want isn’t healthy since they might not poop when they need to. So you can have some healthy accidents but training is still worth it.

TLDR Cockatiel poop questions

What does normal cockatiel poop look like?

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 3
Thanks to casey and talkcockatiels.com

A normal cockatiel poop is brown and healthy. It should look like the feed they had just before pooping. A green feed poop would look green and that’s perfectly normal.

What causes watery poop in cockatiels?

Watery poop can be due to high water content but sometimes it can also be a result of an infection or diarrhea in extreme cases.

The distinction between both isn’t that easy. Here is a nice chart.

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 4

Thanks to MeanneyFids on Talkparrots.com

Why is my cockatiel poop dark green?

Dark green poop can be a result of feeding vegetables to the cockatiel. Birds cannot digest everything and hence the poop comes out green.

Why is my cockatiels poop red?

Red poop can be perfectly normal and can be dangerous based on what was eaten. If the poop is a result of eating red vegetables like beetroot etc then it’s fine but if it contains blood then you need to visit an avian vet ASAP.

Why is my cockatiels poop white?

White poop is normal in most conditions. The whiteness comes from a part of poop in cockatiels. But sometimes it can also indicate an infection. Consult a vet if it continues for long.

Detailed Explanations

Understanding Cockatiel Poop

Birds are known to hide their illness but if you can get better acquainted with their droppings you can better predict their health, upcoming diseases, and even inspect injuries when they happen.

Basics of cockatiel poop

Before you start, add suitable material to the bottom of the cage so you can monitor the poop every morning. Use materials like paper towels, plain newsprint, and clear wax paper

They should be your go to material in the beginning when it is hard for a new owner to understand the poops. When you graduate a bit, you can shift to the regular newspaper. 

But do remember to never use bottom cage materials like walnut/corn cob shavings or pellets. These make it extremely difficult to understand the color of the poop and can sometimes harbor bacteria that can do damage to your bird.

Make sure to also keep an eye on the poop exhaust area of birds, the cloaca. It should be tightly closed, and there shouldn’t be any abnormal growth or tissues around it. The cloaca should be visibly clean and dry. If there are abnormalities, do get your bird checked out by a vet.

When noticing, you have to look for 4 things:

  1. The size and number of poops
  2. The odor or smell of the poop.
  3. General appearance of the poop i.e, color, form, volume and foreign objects.
  4. The color and size of urates.

Let’s see what are the major aspects you need to see in your birdie’s poop.

  1. Normal sizes of poop

 

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 5

Thanks to MeanneyFids on Talkparrots.com

Birds have different sizes of poop from species to species but cockatiels usually poop all the time and don’t hold it overnight. You will see a lot of droppings at night time from tiels. This is not true for nursing females though.

Nursing cockatiel females spend most of their time in nests and hence poop large smelly poops in the morning. This is also true for newborns in their weaning periods.

Poops can naturally vary in amount, too. Most birds hold their poop overnight until the next morning, when they release a larger-than-average dropping that may smell a bit, too.

  1. Color of poop
Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 6

Thanks to MeanneyFids on Talkparrots.com

It’s normal for a cockatiel’s droppings to resemble the color of the food eaten. If that’s not the case, consult an avian vet immediately.

  1. Change in size

Increase in size of poop could mean that your bird is unable to digest the food properly. A decrease means that they aren’t eating enough.

Let’s discuss these different parts of the cockatiel poop to become more competent at examining the differences.

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 7

Courtesy justcockatiels.weebly.com and talkcockatiels forum

A bird’s poop consists of three parts:

  1. Feces (likely green or brown).
  2. Clear urine.
  3. White part a.k.a urates.

Get a good idea by looking daily at your bird’s poop as to how it looks normally. Anyways, let’s talk about how they usually look.

  1. Feces – Understanding cockatiel fecal changes

The feces part should be green or brown and would likely be in a coiled form (like a snake). The urine part adds watery content to the mixture while the urates are the white crystalline parts. Although these parts are usually separated sometimes they can get mixed and form cloudy poops.

The biggest thing to understand is that not all changes in poop are bad. The color of food or pellets eaten will have an impact on the color of the droppings. Usually common pellets result in rusty poops. 

The poop will turn into the color of food eaten: strawberries will result in reddish poop and blueberries in black. 

High water content in food will result in watery poops and that’s perfectly fine. Not all watery poops are a sign of diarrhea. Sometimes trauma and stress can also increase urine output and therefore wateriness.

Seed-only diets can result in sticky, pasty greenish black poops. These types of diets result in long term diseases as they can lead to malnutrition in birds. However, sometimes some cockatiels can do greenish poops for no reason at all. It depends from bird to bird.

2) Urine – Understanding Cockatiel Urine Changes

Urine can also be a major factor in determining the bird’s health.

Increase in cockatiel urine is fairly normal if based on a high watery diet. However, if it can’t be explained through diet, then it could be a sign of kidney disease, parasitical infection or even poisoning. Consult your nearby vet immediately in case you notice such changes.

Decrease in parrot urine is common when the bird is dehydrated. Prolonged dehydration can severely damage your bird and hence take immediate steps on noticing this.

Pasty urine indicates a poor diet. Birds on seed only diets likely become victims of malnutrition and hence the pasty urine.

Changes in color of the urine are not normal and can be a sign of disease. Most commonly yellowish/greenish pee in cockatiels signals liver disease while reddish urine can be a sign of metal poisoning. 

Please Note: All of these are suggestions so don’t treat your cockatiel based on hunches. Make sure to visit a nearby avian vet for better treatment. 

More urine signs:

  • Green/Yellow urine: Can be a sign of liver disease
  • Red urine: Suggests internal bleeding, kidney disease or lead poisoning.
  • Increase in urine: Drinking of a lot of water or having high water veggies. Long term increase can signal bacterial infection.

3) Understanding changes in urates

Urates are the whitish part of the bird poop. Changes in it can also signal health problems.

  • Urates changing to yellow or greenish – liver disease.
  • Red or brownish red urates– liver disease or lead poisoning.
  • Completely red urates – internal bleeding or kidney disease.
  • More urates than normal – dehydration.

Let’s talk about different type of poops

Cockatiel poop/poo Chart

Cockatiel like any other bird will poop the color of food they eat. Most likely the weird color you’re noticing is just because your bird has eaten those new veggies or pellets. 

We have given a lot of examples below but these are not veterinary guidance but simply guesses from pet owners.

Before panicking, always look for other signs like lethargy, lack of appetite, hair loss, snot from ears or eyes etc.

Additional signs like puffing and sleeping all day can be indications of illnesses as well. If your bird has not eaten anything that could color the poop then it is a sign that you should run to the vet immediately. 

Dark green cockatiel poop

Eating a lot of seeds can lead to dark green poops in birds. 

Green watery poop

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 8

New tiels take some time to adjust and in the meanwhile they can poop watery droppings. This is normal due to stress. Drinking a lot of water or eating high amounts of watery veggies can lead to this.

It should come back to normal but if it continues for long, consult a vet. Watery poops for long can be a sign of polyuria which is a known symptom of many diseases.

Brown poop

Eating a lot of pellets can lead to brown poop in cockatiels. 

Watery poop 

Watery poops can also occur after an antibiotic treatment. Since antibiotics are known to destroy gut bacteria, it is advised that you provide them with a probiotic supplement.

Watery poop can be normal during molting times.

Diarrhea

Not all watery poops are diarrhea. It’s common for parrots to excrete out extra watery poop after eating watery foods and veggies. 

Dark green poop

Seeds lead to dark green poop

Millet diet can lead to green poop as millets are mostly seeds. And, seeds lead to green poops. Even one day of millet is enough for the bird to poop green. Hand fed formula leads to brown poops. Photos are attached below. 

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 9
Thanks to talkcockatiels.com

Light Green poop

Light Green poop is fine as long as it’s not red or black. 

Red poop

Red poop can be due to red pellets or from eating red items like tomatoes, strawberries etc. However if there is blood in poop, it could be a sign of internal bleeding, yeast infections etc. look for other signs like lethargy, unwillingness to fly, quietness etc. 

Sometimes they can digest paper pellets and these could result in red poops if they are of red color.

All seed diets are not recommended. It should be a mixture of seeds with pellets in a 40:60 ratio. 

White poop

The poop can be white when the bird is eating paper. Check by crushing the poop if it is bulgy like mushed paper or not. 

Sometimes, they can also just drop urates alone and as urates are white, the poop can look white as well. 

If it is once or twice, there is not a need to worry. However if it continues for long or if there are foams/cloudy, consult a vet immediately.

Sometimes in extreme cases (if they are accompanied by other illness signs), White or clay colored poop can indicated Pancreatic or digestive problems.

Blood in poop

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 10

Thanks to MeanneyFids on Talkparrots.com

Blood or redness can be a sign of bleeding in the lower intestine. The other reasons could include parasites, ingestion of foreign objects, tumors, warts, poisoning, infection etc.

Black poop

Black feces can be a sign of bleeding in the upper digestive tract.

Bubbly poop

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 11

Thanks to MeanneyFids on Talkparrots.com

Bubbly poop means infection like clostridium. If thats the case, reach out to an avian vet immediately.

Please note: If you think they are bleeding internally, don’t wait for them to get better. You might lose your bird in waiting. Immediately visit a nearby vet to get him treated.

Tar like pasty poop

If your bird is not eating, the poop will start turning into tar like pasty and dark poop.

Undigested food in poop is not a good sign either. This could mean that your tiel is suffering from a parasitical/parasitical infection or from a pancreatic disease. 

Other Abnormal Poop types:

Essential Guide to Cockatiel Pooping 12

Thanks to MeanneyFids on Talkparrots.com

  • Pea Green poop can be a sign of Liver Damage.
  • Chlamydophila psittaci bacteria (the bacteria that causes psittacosis) can be the reason for yellow or greyish poops.
  • Undigested food in poo can be a result of incomplete digestion, Giardia etc.

FAQ Questions

Is cockatiel poop toxic to humans?

Cockatiels can spread diseases to humans via their poop. Their poop can contain bacteria like E coli and salmonella. You can get diseases like bird flu, influenza, and psittacosis. 

Can you keep a cockatiel in your bedroom?

It’s perfectly fine to keep a tiel in your bedroom as long as the cage is properly cleaned and the poop is removed before it has dried. 

Dried poop can become dust and enter your lungs causing various types of infections and inflammations. Birds like cockatoo and cockatiels also shed danger which can act as a foreign body entering your lungs and causing disturbances. 

If you still want to keep your bird near your bed, have a good quality air purifier near you. In a sleeping state you don’t know what is entering through your nostrils.

According to the CDC[4], birds like cockatiels can cause infections such as Cryptococcus, Histoplasmosis and diseases like psittacosis.

 

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