Birds eat a wide variety of foods, including brightly colored insects and purple berries. The color of birds’ droppings is often a direct result of their diet and digestion process.
However, you will also typically notice white streaks along with the other color when you notice bird feces. Why is bird poop purple?
Purple bird poop is caused by the foods birds eat that are purple, like grapes and berries. When the purple food passes through the bird’s digestive system, it becomes poop through 3 components. The feces portion comes from the intestines and the urates and liquid portion comes from the kidneys. This causes the purple stains in the poop.
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Birds poop is purple when the contents of that bird’s diet are purple. Likewise, this can happen when they’ve recently had a good blend of blue and red foods.
Although there aren’t many blue foods, dyes and even oddly colored insects for meat-eating birds may affect the hue of their feces.
You can accidentally change the color of some domestic birds’ poop by feeding them colorful treats. Even placing colored toys where they can chew on them could cause an unexpected pop of purple color in your pets’ poops.
However, if your domestic bird suddenly goes from having normal poops to having bright colors like purple or red, it’s best if you take them to the vet right away.
Never try to home-diagnose a problem that could affect your bird’s entire digestive system.
1 – Grapes & Berries
It is easy to look at most non-raptor birds, especially the small ones, and assume that these cute little creatures are entirely vegan.
Birds certainly eat nuts, seeds, and berries often enough. Anyone who has ever grown grapes or berries in their yard can tell you that birds eat them.
I lost all my blueberries to birds before I could eat them the first year I planted them, but that doesn’t make the birds vegetarians.
However, it definitely turned a lot of bird poops purple. The hue of the berries, mainly when a bird eats a lot at once, may not break down inside their intestines, so it comes out the other side still purple.
As Fantastic Wildlife explains, “…most birds are omnivores (eating items of plant and animal origin), always complementing their diets with some meaty snacks like insects and worms. A good example is the Robin, who’ll eat different types of food depending not only on the time of year but even the time of day. Robins will eat earthworms in the mornings and more fruit later in the day.”
2 – Oddly Colored Insects
With a few exceptions, all birds eat insects. Even little nectar sipping hummingbirds eat gnats and aphids occasionally.
Likewise, the primarily herbivorous duck will supplement its diet with a few snails, plus fish, frogs, lizards, and other small aquatic protein sources.
Some birds prefer a mostly meat-based diet. Larger birds like vultures, crows, owls, and eagles are scavengers or carnivores. These big birds skip past most plants and insects, opting for larger prey.
There aren’t a ton of purple insects, but they do exist. A handful of butterflies have purple on their wings, and there are purple beetles. Additionally, there are purple snails, though they aren’t widespread.
3 – Purple Birds
There are dozens of purple birds. Some species are purple all over, like the Purple Honeycatcher, Purple Starling, and Purple Martin.
In contrast, others like the Purple-crested Turaco and the Western Violet-backed Sunbird only have partially purple feathers. The color of the bird will not affect the hue of its poop.
However, it is with mentioning these purple species because sometimes a feather or two comes loose and sticks when a bird goes to the bathroom.
A purple feather can get stuck in the poop and make it look purple even though the color comes from somewhere else.
This is especially true for birds with purple down since the smaller under feathers are less identifiable at a distance than a more ‘feather-shaped’ like those on the wings.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Bird Poop Is Purple
When mammals like humans poop, it is usually brown because of how our digestive system works. However, avians have it a little differently, and their feces can resemble a recent meal, or be almost entirely white, sticky paste.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about why bird poop is purple.
- The most common colors for bird poop are green and white. In fact, many bird care specialists use the shade of green to gauge the relative health of the bird. Parrot poop, for example, should always be green and white because of their diet and digestion. According to Be Chewy, “How the poop is formed is as important as its color… (parrot) poop has three components: a green portion, which is the feces and comes from the intestines; a white portion, which is the urates and comes from the kidneys; and a liquid portion, which is the urine and also comes from the kidneys…In a normal poop, the green and white portions are close to equal amounts, and there is just enough liquid to make it glisten with wetness, maybe a little halo around the poop if it’s on an absorbent surface.”
- The old saying, ‘you are what you eat,’ isn’t necessarily true, but birds tend to show what they’ve eaten more than other species. Flamingoes turn pink from eating shrimp, and all birds’ poop is usually a colorful reflection of their most recent meal. Surprisingly, flamingo poop is greyish brown and white.
- Birds don’t always poop purple, and it’s not the most common color of avian feces. You will often see green, brown, black, and other colors mixed in with the white uric acid paste. Some birds can’t poop purple when they are healthy because their diet excludes any food source that has this lovely hue. Meanwhile, like parrots and flamingos, others have more specific fecal colors due to their food and digestion.
- Seeing purple bird poop isn’t usually a bad sign. Wild birds, in particular, tend to eat whatever they like, and that means berries if they find any. It’s even okay if there’s little to no white in the poop since birds don’t produce the same amount of uric acid paste every time they use the restroom.
Like the birds themselves, bird poop comes in every color of the rainbow and more. Also, like the birds, most bird poop is neutral colors like greys, whites, and brown, but it can be purple.
Mostly the unusual color comes from berries and insects the birds eat that are also purple. However, the poop only appears purple for a few notable species because its striking purple feathers are mixed in.
While the latter isn’t truly purple poop, it looks the same and happens more often when purple species are molting.