We all know birds poop, as it stands out so much and seems to be everywhere, but have you ever wondered if birds fart? We've put together this article to answer all things farting and birds!
So, do birds fart?
The short answer to this is, generally speaking, is that birds do not fart. Birds have the anatomical and physical ability to be able to but do not have the need to. Unlike other mammals who pass wind (gas) from their anus, there is no sound evidence of birds doing the same.
Birds can digest food much quicker than humans and other mammals. They have comparatively shorter intestinal tracts to land mammals of a similar size.
As they poop frequently (some species poop every 5 to 15 minutes), there is not enough time for the food digested to ferment and produce wind (gas). Another factor is that birds do not have the bacteria in their guts that cause gases to build up.
Ornithologists are unsure as to whether birds can burp to release any unwanted gas. However, scientists believe if a bird did want to burp, it would have no problem doing so.
As birds do not have the same gas-producing bacteria as mammals, there is no real need for them to burp.
It is unknown as to whether birds fart whilst pooping. But did you know that birds poop and wee at the same time?
Pooping can be a frequent occurrence depending upon the size and species, with some birds feeling the need to poop every 15 minutes.
The wee and poop are excreted from the urinary and digestive tract together. They pass through the cloaca and then out of the vent.
Pied Kingfisher pooping
Some species can imitate human voices and mimic the sounds they hear around the home. So, it comes as no surprise that parrots can produce farting sounds.
Parrots can change the depth and shape of their syrinx (vocal organ) and produce many different sounds like the phone ringing, running water and the dog barking.
The African grey parrot is known to be a particularly good talker and noted as one of the best-mimicking birds on the planet. They also love to interact with their human owners.
An African Grey parrot named Alex was famous around the world for his ability to talk. He had a vocabulary of more than 100 English words and was able to identify differences in shapes and colours. His accomplishments gained him a lot of media attention.
A pair of cockatoos
Generally speaking, chickens are capable of farting. Just as humans and other mammals need to fart and burp on occasion, when it comes to birds passing gas, chickens are the exception to the rule.
It is not known for sure as to whether chickens emit a noise when farting although, many chicken owners have confirmed they can certainly produce a pretty awful smell when passing gas.
Unlike other bird species, it takes chickens much longer to digest and process their food. Certain types of food, such as beans and vegetables, can cause a build-up of excessive gas and cause flatulence, so it is best to avoid overfeeding with these food types.
Chickens are one of the only types of birds capable of farting
The Bassian Thrush (Zoothera lunulata) is a small unassuming bird and is rumoured to locate earthworms and other bugs by farting repeatedly while foraging and feeding. It is said to startle its prey into moving and revealing their whereabouts by farting directly at them.
In 1983, a birding enthusiast reported hearing a noise from the rear of a Bassian Thrush while it was searching for worms. But is this a fact, or is it a myth?
According to the book Extreme Birds: The World's Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds and the book Really Strange Birds by Janet Levy, it is believed to be true but, there may be another explanation!
A paper published by J. S. L. Edington in September 1983, relating to a study carried out between 1981 and 1982 may throw a different light on the subject. In the paper entitled ‘White’s Thrush: Some Aspects of its Ecology and Feeding, Edington states the following:
Bassian Thrush foraging on the ground
“A noise similar to a jet of air and somewhat louder (clearly audible at five metres and lasting less than 0.25 sec.) than the bird’s footfalls was produced immediately after stopping and in turn, followed by probing or more hopping. Coincident with this noise, was a distinct downward movement of the vent region (‘vent-dipping’), very similar to the movements of defection. Legs and claws were motionless at this time, as were the head and beak. The ‘vent-dipping’ did not occur between the closely separated probes at a single point. Prior to moving to a new position (or prior to another ‘vent-dipping’ if the bird did not move) the body and tail were noted to show a slight tremor of usually five or six shivers. If foraging were more intensive, for example in the pursuit of a particular worm, one shiver would take place every one third of a second; if slower, up to every second. Each shiver was accompanied by a very soft sound somewhat similar to an inhalation gasp. Only in one individual was the tremor absent or less obvious. When the bird was not feeding 9i.e. when sitting on a nest, on alert or perched) no such noises, dipping movements or shivers occurred. The head held motionless and often cocked, rarely pointing to whatever the set of probes proved to be directed. This posture was quickly adapted before and after each unsuccessful single probe.”
Another study carried out for five years confirmed similar observations to those of the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia, the study by Edington in 1983.
So it could well be that the strange farting noises heard and reported by the Australian birder were indeed mistaken for the sounds of the ‘vent-dipping’, however, we’ll let you the reader reach your own conclusion.
The saying sparrow’s fart (alternative forms sparrowfart, sparrow fart) meaning early morning, refers to the time of the dawn chorus as opposed to flatulent birds.
The definition of sparrow's-fart taken from wiktionary.org is:
sparrow-fart (uncountable) (plural attested only as sparrowfarts )
The sense is also rendered in non-idiomatic constructions such as “when the sparrow farts.”