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How Can I Tell if My Bird is About to Poop?

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Question: How Can I Tell if My Bird is About to Poop?
I recently adopted a new pet bird, and I knew that I was going to have to deal with cleaning up bird poop, but this is ridiculous! Every few minutes I'm getting pooped on, and it's beginning to ruin all my clothes. It's very frustrating, especially when I know that there's got to be something that can be done about it! What can I do to recognize when my bird is about to poop so that I can avoid getting it all over me? Is there any way to housebreak or potty train a bird?
Answer: Unfortunately, getting pooped on is just part of being a bird owner. It comes with the territory, and anyone who adopts a pet bird would do best to resign themselves to the fact that it will happen eventually, and probably sooner rather than later. Once you've accepted that fact, then you can begin to move on to learning some techniques that will help you keep it from happening quite as often as it does when you first bring your feathered friend home. Once you get a grasp of how to manage the "poop problem" that all bird owners have to deal with, you'll find that it really isn't as big a deal as it might seem in the beginning.

The first thing that you need to do is spend some time bonding with your new bird and getting to know his or her personality quirks and mannerisms. During this period of time, accept that if you are handling your bird, you will be pooped on -- without knowing the subtle signs that your bird will give off before doing his or her business, there is simply no way to prevent it. Rest assured, however, that after spending some time with your bird, you will start to recognize little things that will help you anticipate when your bird needs to go potty, and allow you to move the bird to a more appropriate area before the accident happens. In fact, this concept forms the basis of potty training a bird.

Don't get discouraged if you aren't able to pick up on any signals that your bird is going to poop right away. It can take weeks, or sometimes even a month or two to start being able to recognize tiny signals of an impending accident. Each bird is an individual, so there is no foolproof guide to learning when a bird is going to poop. However, there do seem to be a few common signals that many bird owners report noticing before their bird goes potty. These include the following:
  • Warm feet. Some bird owners notice that the temperature of their bird's feet seems to increase in the minutes before their feathered friend uses the restroom. Obviously, this signal is easiest to discern if you hold your bird perched on your finger.

  • Fluffed feathers. Many times, bird owners report that their pets fluff up their feathers a few seconds before they poop. This may give you enough time to move your bird off of you and back into its cage, or at least get to a place where the poop doesn't fall on your clothing.

  • Tail flicking. Some birds may appear to bob or flick their tail right before defecating. Again, this can happen just seconds before the bird actually produces waste, so you will have to act quickly to avoid getting pooped on in this instance.
After a while of paying close attention and getting to know your bird's personal characteristics, it's highly likely that you will be able to greatly reduce the instances that your bird poops on you. In the meantime, try putting on an oversized "poop shirt" over your clothes when you handle your bird, or review these tips for removing bird poop from clothing. Patience and practice will be your keys to success in this matter, and will make your interactions and relationship with your feathered friend much more enjoyable in time.
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