Why is My Cockatiel Eating Her Poop?

Why is My Cockatiel Eating Her Poop?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

I have 2 questions. 


I have a cockatiel that a friend gave to me. 


When I first got it, there were clearly dark bars on the underside of the tail feathers. 


A little after that my friend gave me an Indian ring-necked parrot. 


She (I think it was a female because there was no ring around the neck) was sweet but aggressive towards the other birds (my friend also gave me 2 budgies). 


The parrot tore out a lot of tail feathers from the cockatiel. 


Now that the tail feathers have grown back, they are dark on the underside, with no sign of dark bars as before. 




So, I’m confused. 


Is it a girl or a boy? (in the meantime I gave the ringneck parrot back to my friend, where she is now the only bird there so she has no one to pick on and gets all the attention for herself). 


One of the budgies died. 


So I am left with the cockatiel and 1 budgie.


2nd question) I recently noticed that the cockatiel was eating her dried droppings. I shooed her/him away.


 I’m sure it’s not healthy for her to do that. Do you have any idea why she would do that?


Thanks, Aviva


Greetings Aviva


The dark bars on the underside of your cockatiel’s tailfeathers are called “stress bars.”


Usually a by-product of poor nutrition and or inadequate lighting.


How important is lighting for pet birds?


I will theorize that the cockatiel is under better care in your hands because the stress bars were gone when the tailfeathers grew back.


The lack of stress bars indicates the bird is on a better diet with you.


They would’ve molted out and grown back on their own but the ringneck accelerated the process.


Having no ring it was a female ringneck


Editor’s note: 20% of parrots are sexually dimorphic meaning you can determine the sex by coloration, male ringnecks have the rings Endnote


As for the cockatiel eating her own poop.


The scientific term for an animal eating its own feces is ‘coprophagy’ and will see it in other species like rabbits but it’s rare in birds.


Cockatiels seem to be the exception to the bird world for this unfortunate trait, primarily females.


Sometimes a “tiel will be forging on the bottom of the cage and end up eating poop “by accident” or even boredom if there are not enough forging and enrichment opportunities available.


The most distressing trigger would be that your bird is insufficient for certain vitamins or minerals.


Cockatiel poop can yield B vitamins, vitamin C, Choline and amino acids. 


Parasites can be a cause of vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well.


A scarcity in any of these could be a poop eating trigger.


The bird wants to replenish vitamins and minerals and poop is a source.


I would advocate a trip to an avian vet for a full blood workup ($125 – $250).


In the meantime add a robust avian supplement like Avi-Era Bird Vitamins by Lafebers 1.25 oz (36 G)


Best – MitchR


Did you hear about the dystectic rabbi who walked around saying “yo”?


Aviva is Israeli 

Mitch Rezman

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