Cockatiel poop may not be the most pleasant topic to discuss, but it is an essential learning topic for cockatiel owners.
The reason is that the appearance and frequency of your cockatiel’s poop can give you valuable early indicators about health issues.
You need to monitor your cockatiel’s poop starting from day one to be sure your bird is eating well, digesting their food thoroughly, and excreting normal amounts of urates (urine) and feces (solid waste).
In this article, learn how often cockatiels poop and other important facts about cockatiel elimination.
How Often Do Cockatiels Poop
For general purposes, an adult cockatiel who is healthy will poop every 15 to 20 minutes.
Hatchling and juvenile cockatiels that are still developing may poop more frequently than this, however.
Learn About Potty Training a Cockatiel
This YouTube video introduces you to an idea you may not have realized is possible. With patience and positive reinforcement, you can potty train your cockatiel!
It is important to remember that cockatiels do not have the same capacity to hold their bladder and bowel “business” as many other pet species, such as dogs and cats. We will investigate this issue more thoroughly in later sections here.
Learn About Cockatiel Poop
As VCA Animal Hospitals explains, making sure your cockatiel is pooping normally and that the poop looks healthy is an important daily health check you will want to get into the habit of doing.
First, you need to learn about cockatiel waste. If you have never cared for a bird before, you may not realize that their waste looks different than that of most other warm-blooded species.
Birds may be warm-blooded, but in many ways, they are more closely related to reptiles like crocodiles, according to Arizona State University’s Ask A Biologist.
For example, both reptiles and avians lay eggs. And both reptiles and avians eliminate their waste out of a single exit point on the body called the cloaca.
Cockatiel urine is called urates. In a healthy cockatiel, the urates do not come out looking watery. Rather, they have mass and a whitish color.
Cockatiel stool, or poop, is mixed in with the urates and usually has a greenish-brown color. The color of the poop can change based on what the bird ate most recently.
Can Cockatiels Hold Their Poop
There is very little research regarding how long cockatiels or birds, in general, can hold their poop.
Science World explored the issue with a rooster that was reported to hold his poop for long periods of time while sitting on a favored person’s lap.
Their research suggested the rooster learned to hop off the person’s lap when he had to go to the bathroom, thus avoiding pooping on the person they liked.
The Avian Avenue cockatiel owners forum also explains that adult female cockatiels, or hens, who are incubating eggs have been observed to hold their poop for long periods of time to avoid soiling the nest.
This is an interesting facet of cockatiel behavior as well. As MIT points out, many owners report that their pet birds seem to dislike pooping on them.
The popular Parrot Forums cockatiel thread reports that many cockatiels will develop a preference for pooping in certain areas and an aversion to pooping on other areas.
So while cockatiels may not have the same internal anatomy as humans or mammals in general, they do seem to have some ability to hold their waste inside for a time.
If a Cockatiel Holds Their Poop Will They Get Sick
This brings up an important question about cockatiel safety and health. In fact, it is the number one reason why some cockatiel owners choose not to try to potty train their avian companions.
However, there is no data or research to suggest that a cockatiel will hold its waste to the extreme. What can and does happen is that the cockatiel may develop a urinary tract infection from keeping waste inside that needs to be let out.
How to Handle Constant Cockatiel Poop
If you are considering adding a cockatiel to your family, you may find the idea of a bird that poops every 15 to 20 minutes daunting.
Cockatiels are social and can be clingy and your bird will want to spend time with you, so it is important to think this issue through before you bring your bird home to stay.
The good news is, you can have some control over how much poop handling you have to do for your bird when you are spending time together.
Here are some options to consider for handling your bird’s constant need to poop.
You can potty train your cockatiel
For example, you can choose to potty train your cockatiel to go in a certain place upon command.
If you decide to go this route, it will be important to get into a daily routine with your bird so your cockatiel doesn’t become uncomfortable or ill waiting for you.
By studying your cockatiel’s daily routine and pooping habits, you can estimate the times your bird will need to poop, such as right after waking up, right before going to bed, and about 15 to 20 minutes after drinking water and eating.
You should choose a short phrase to use to train your cockatiel to poop and another short phrase to praise your cockatiel for obeying the command. You may want to use a special cup or bowl that your cockatiel can recognize as their place to poop.
You can use a cockatiel diaper or flight suit
Another popular option many cockatiel owners use to control their cockatiel’s frequent need to poop is a cockatiel diaper or flight suit.
Most flight suits have a small pad that will last for a few hours to contain the poop inside the suit.
You will need to train your cockatiel to wear the flight suit. Always use positive reinforcement methods such as praise and treats – never try to force your fragile bird into a flight suit or cockatiel diaper.
Not all cockatiels will accept wearing a flight suit so you will need to be prepared with a Plan B, especially if you are trying to train an older cockatiel.
You can wear special clothing when handling your cockatiel
Yet another option is to wear a special set of clothing when handling your cockatiel or at least drape a towel across the area where your cockatiel is sitting.
What To Do If Your Cockatiel Won’t Poop
While most new cockatiel owners are focused on dealing with their new bird’s constant pooping, a cockatiel that does not poop for long periods of time is equally concerning.
When a cockatiel does not eliminate naturally every 15 to 20 minutes, this could indicate a number of health issues ranging from constipation to the presence of a mass or tumor to egg binding (in a mature female).
Here again, taking the time to pay careful attention to your cockatiel’s daily poop habits can help you spot early warning signs of illness long before you see any other symptoms.
The same holds true if you see changes to your cockatiel’s poop. Discoloration, excess fluid, blood, partially digested seeds, and other changes require evaluation from an experienced avian veterinary specialist.