Birdsafe California Bird Nerds
James Harris, DVM

Poop-eating bird might need more nutrients

Why is my parrot eating his own excrement when he has food in his plate? What type of parrot is he? He is about 12 inches long, green, with a yellow head; his wings have a little bit of black, red and yellow. Here is a picture.

-- Sergio Sanchez,

Animals that eat their own feces (a disorder called copraphagia), soil (called pica) or other non-nutritive foreign items sometimes need more minerals in their diet. Or, they might simply have developed a nasty habit.


Whatever the reason your bird likes to munch his droppings, there are plenty of nutritionally complete pre-made pelleted diets that you can try to substitute. However, as there is some preliminary evidence that birds fed a diet that is over 80 percent pellets may develop renal disease, you should supplement with a well-balanced diet of "people food". Consult your avian veterinarian for details. He or she can also give your bird a checkup to make sure he's healthy.

Although it looks like some species of Amazon, I'm sorry to say I am not able to precisely identify your bird from the picture you sent. A good source book with pictures of all the species of parrots is Forshaw's Parrots of the World. You should be able to find a copy at the library.

Dr. James Harris James Harris, DVM is owner and medical director of the Mayfair Veterinary Clinic in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. He founded Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and has served as medical director and chairman of the board for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley. Dr. Harris' numerous professional honors include California and National Bustad Companion Animal DVM Awards. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Return to current Ask a Vet column

  Bird clubs.
  Bird rescue groups.
  Find an avian vet.
  Parrot FAQ

California Bird Nerds Lafeber