Name for this avian behavior? (foregoing elimination overnight)

We have an African Grey Parrot. Rocco has many interesting behaviors, one of which involves not eliminating overnight. When I take him out of his cage for breakfast he dumps a huge load.

I assume that in the wild this would lead to a neater nest. I’ve observed this behavior in cockatiel breeding pairs.

So, is there a name for this? Google hasn’t been rewarding, mostly due to returns about bed wetting, etc.

Mightn’t this simply be learned behavior. And I don’t see it as avian behavior, particularly. Certainly pet dogs do the same thing, as do most humans once they’re four or five, say.

Well, I’ve taught a bird to eliminate on command, that’s pretty simple. But this behavior was never addressed in training, and I’ve seen it in paired cockatiels that had little interaction with humans.

I’m pretty certain there must be a term for it, but I can’t find it.

Don’t shit where you eat?

Offhand, I can’t recall a specific name for this.

The behavior is fairly obvious to understand: Animals don’t want to foul the place where they sleep, which can give predators a way to find them while they are sleeping.

Kayaker: I do not know the term, but can attest first-hand of how several different species of ‘parrots’ do exactly as you say, and one species that does not (at least the one we have of that species.

We used to have an Umbrella Cockatoo who would poop as soon as he was set upon his largish cage (off top edge on cage onto newspaper on floor under his ‘favorite spot’). Made keeping his night-cage clean SOOO much easier. Rarely was there any poop in night-cage.

And we currently have a Nanday conure and a Quaker/Monk parrot – the Nanday definitely holds it in until taken from night-cage around sun-up and placed upon his perch (on opened door) of largish day-cage. Prodigious amounts of poop are quickly deposited onto the paper on floor underneath within a few seconds or so of placing him there. If I take a minute or two extra in getting him to day-cage perch, he acts very frustrated and signals that I better hurry. Sometimes, I wonder how the Nanday can hold so much volume of waste in the relatively small body of his!

Now the Quaker will poop anytime/anywhere, but always smallish amounts that kinda pile up down one section of ‘wall of his night-cage’. Easy enough to keep clean, but it does build up regularly day-by-day. I’m so glad that the Nanday does not do such :slight_smile:

I wonder if there is a species difference in ‘parrotiae’ that affects this differing behavior, or if it is a learned thing of some sort. I can also say that when we had the Cockatoo, if he was on couch or elsewhere playing/snuggling indoors, he would hop to floor and walk to his day-cage, climb up and poop off usual area of edge of cage, then return to what he was doing previously. He rarely dropped a load away from his ‘usual spot’ indoors, but if we were outside playing on the play-stand of branches I tied together for him (we kept his flight feathers clipped, fwiw) or walking through parks, etc, he’d want off the person and onto some type of ‘perch’, like top of a fence, park bench, or on a low branch of tree, etc. Fairly set in his way of how he did his business, no doubt.

And, fwiw, there is a great forum with ‘expert’ keepers of large parrots called that might be worth your perusal if inadequate answer(s) gotten here. I have no personal relations with this website, but found LOTS of knowledge there - focus on Cockatoos, but lots of the folks there keep multiple large species as well.

Cool info about a not-so-cool topic!

Ionizer: Is the Quaker legal in your area? A friend with a Quaker got a stern talking to from her vet, since technically they are illegal to keep in PA (fear of wild flocks if released).

In the evening when Rocco is hanging out in the living room on his tree we take him to his cage every 15-20 minutes and he eliminates immediately, eager to return to the living room.

Fun story: my wife’s best friend has an African Grey named Pineapple. She tried to teach Pineapple to eliminate on command (with the command being “poop.”) Unfortunately, she either didn’t follow the recommended training procedure, or maybe the bird is just dumb. But Pineapple has never eliminated on command; he does, however, say “poop” himself just as he takes a crap.

After reading “Alex and Me” I’m inclined to think that maybe he’s smarter than his owner. You might want to suggest the book to your friend. Maybe it will help him and his wife understand how to get his parrot to understand that it’s a request to do something (rather than - as it sounds like - a statement that he’s doing it). :cool:

Just a nitpick:

“foregoing elimination overnight”

It should be “forgoing elimination overnight.”

“Foregoing” means going before.

“Forgoing” means going without.

Yep - legal they are. There’s quite a few breeders listed in OK under a quick Google search (unfortunately). I am against most breeders, who tend to hatch too many birds while so many great birds sit in rescues waiting for their forever-home to present itself.

Both our birds are ‘rescues’, Nanday from a rescue-place in Tulsa area, and Quaker from a youngish couple who were ready to kill him (so they said) if no one else would take him. They had asked a waitress we know if they could put up a “Free parrot” sign on the corkboard there. Waitress called us right away as the folks looked rather seedy and she knew how much we care for birds. When we picked up the Quaker, the house had quite a meth-smell coming onto porch. The bird (and cage) were in horrible shape (we bought a bigger cage for day-time use), but he’s happily sitting on my shoulder right now happily preening the little hairs on my ears. He’s big on preening any person who will tolerate the ticklish feeling :slight_smile:

Maybe the parrot would poop in the cage, but there’s no perch which allows it to take the position, where it can poop cleanly (not get any on feathers or legs or feet).
As to volume, its not doing itself any injury, they routinely hold in a large volume, when socially sharing a nest, sitting on eggs, and during a long flight.
(they don’t poop in flight, cause their legs are stretched back into way of the expulsion… )

Heh, thanks! I did not know that.

Nope, he has a large cage and eliminates in the cage whenever he is inside it (other than overnight, when he [del]forgos[/del] skips it.:smiley:

Previous thread on poop-in-flight

Seems a number of Dopers have experienced/witnessed the fly-by poop events that birds can do. Both my small ‘parrots’ have done it on occasion, sometimes seemingly with practiced aim at one of our two small dogs. Seen plenty of geese, flying low overhead, drop loads in my near vicinity (purposeful?!).

Plus, I was watching David Letterman (over twenty years ago, prolly 25-ish+) when he did the Stupid Pet Tricks segment on certain days. One guy brought his large parrot (forget type, but macaw-size or so and very colorful. Dave asked why the guy had a small hoola-hoop with him and guy says just to wait. Hoop then placed on stage floor and guy said something to bird, then bird circled audience a time or two then came in low over hoop and placed its load in middle of hoop while ‘flaring’ a bit, then doing a quick turn-around to land on guy’s arm. Dave cut the segment off then, laughing almost-uncontrollably (IIRC), and said that there was no way to beat that.

On a few raft trips upon Snake River, Idaho (Hagerman stretch, Hell’s Canyon, and Murtaugh stretch near Twin Falls), a few different of us floaters have been bombarded by several pelicans and a number of seagulls, one scoring direct hit on guy in back of my raft - HUGE amount on his head dropped from maybe 40-50’ above with lots of vocalizations that seemed to be laughing-like :slight_smile:

So, yeah, birds can/will do it in-flight, but maybe not as a routine manner.