Do Birds Pee? Explaining Avian Excretion Methods

Do Birds Pee? Explaining Avian Excretion Methods

This is indeed an interesting question and one that does not have a simple yes or no answer. Humans and other mammals drink water to help digest food, get rid of waste and keep the body hydrated and functioning as it should. Most birds need to drink water, too, but require less than mammals as they do not have sweat glands.

Most birds need to drink water daily. The amount they drink varies depending on the species and size of the bird. Small birds drink at least twice daily to replace water lost through respiration and droppings. Generally speaking, hummingbirds drink nectar, as it's sugar-rich and provides the energy required for their high metabolism.

Technically speaking, birds do not pee. Instead, birds excrete urine in a solid uric acid form along with their poop. If you've seen a bird poop, then you've also seen it pee.

Birds pee and poop at the same time

Birds pee and poop at the same time

Do birds have bladders?

Humans and other mammals store urine in their bladder, but what about birds?

Apart from the ostrich, birds do not have a urinary bladder, therefore do not produce urea. Urea is one of the components found in urine and is stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra.

Birds instead convert toxic ammonia waste to uric acid, or guanine, in a highly concentrated form that avoids the storage of watery urine as an adaption to keep them as light as possible and able to fly effectively.

Do birds pee and poo from the same hole?

As we know, humans and other mammals get rid of liquid and solid waste separately but do birds do the same?

Birds excrete urine and faeces together through the vent after passing through the cloaca (vent). Cloaca (pronounced klo-A-ca) is from the Latin verb cluo, 'to cleanse', thus the noun cloaca, 'sewer, drain'. So unlike mammals, birds do not have separate exits for their wee and poop.

Do birds pee while flying?

Many birds defecate before taking to the air, and the majority can empty their bodily waste during flight. Many people believe that some birds poop before taking to the air to lighten their load.

Rumour has it that pigeons do not poop when airborne as they fly with their legs and feet tucked in close to the body and near the vent. So, it is believed if they pooped when flying, they may end up covering their feet in their excrement.

But as pigeons can fly for long periods, and as many of us who have been 'targeted' with poo from flying pigeons, this is obviously a myth; therefore, they must sometimes poop during their journey.

A seagull defecating in the air

A seagull defecating in the air

Do birds have kidneys?

Kidneys play a crucial role in keeping our bodies healthy. They do many things to ensure our bodies functions properly. Their main job is to cleanse the blood of toxins and transform waste into urine. So, do birds have kidneys?

Birds have paired kidneys that play a vital role in the health and well-being of birds. They are responsible for purifying the blood and passing waste products out towards the cloaca, maintaining water and electrolyte balance in the body, amongst many other things.

In comparison to most mammals, avian kidneys are relatively large compared to their body size. They generally comprise 1% to 2% of their body weight compared to an average of 0.5% of body weight in mammals.

Is getting peed on by a bird good luck?

It may be better to ask the question, Is getting pooped on by a bird good luck? Due to the anatomy of most birds, they are unable to pee in isolation but instead pee and poop together.

There are many superstitions, old wives tales and myths around the world based on this subject, so we have included some examples below:

  • If a bird decides to poop on your head, or car, house or indeed anything you own, it's a sign of good luck!
  • In Russia, people welcome being pooped on as they believe it brings you riches.
  • The spiritual meaning of a bird pooping on you is a sign for you to slow and re-evaluate yourself and your life as a whole.
  • An old British tale warns of droppings from a rook - it's said to be a punishment and not a blessing.
  • Sailors believe that bird poop shouldn't be removed from the ship before the next rains as it is considered to wash away good luck.
Red-backed shrike taking a poop

Red-backed shrike taking a poop


Do birds have a urethra?

In mammals, the urethra is a tube connected to the bladder in which urine leaves the body through a tiny pee hole called the urethral opening.

Birds have evolved with no need for a bladder as they need to remain as light as possible to fly effectively, and therefore, they have no requirement for a bladder or a urethra.

In birds, the kidneys produce uric acid waste in a highly concentrated form that avoids storing urine in a liquid state.

What colour is bird pee?

Unlike the typical yellow-amber colour of normal urine in mammals, birds' pee is white. Whilst mammals excrete nitrogenous wastes mainly in the form of urea, birds convert it to uric acid or guanine.

Most of us have seen bird droppings that resemble an off-white, cream-coloured or yellowish, opaque blob splattered across the patio, car window, and garden furniture but have you ever wondered why it's that colour?

A bird's droppings are a good measure to determine its general health and well-being. Depending on diet, birds excrement can vary in colour, consistency and volume.

So, taking a closer look at bird poop, generally, the faeces are solid, and the darkest part of the dropping and the urine is the clear watery part of the dropping.

Do parrots pee?

A parrots urinary system, like that of most birds, works differently from mammals. A birds urinary system has three parts - the kidneys, ureter and cloaca.

Like most other birds, parrots do not have a bladder, as they pass uric acid, the human equivalent of urine, from the kidneys to the cloaca. The liquid and solid waste leave the cloaca together, so their pee and poop are mixed.

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