Ask Lafeber


June 7, 2021


My African grey eats mixed vegetables 2 times a day, some rice, calcium nutri berries and African grey pretty bird. Also just about what the family eats too. Sometimes the poop is brown and runny why can I give my bird to regulate him? I worked at Niles Animal Hospital years ago,


Hi Carol,

What a bird eats will affect the color and consistency of their droppings. When it’s brown, that is often caused by certain fresh foods – especially carrots or sweet potatoes, but it can also be caused by artificial colors in food. When it is loose or runny, this is generally polyuria, which is just excess liquid in the droppings. Polyuria is when there is the normal solid part of the dropping, with a lot of clear liquid around it. If your bird is having loose droppings where it is all one color, but very loose, this is true diarrhea and is cause for concern, especially when there is a change in the color to go with it. In that case, it would be a good idea to have him checked by an Avian Vet. If the droppings are only caused by diet, you should not try to give him anything to regulate the droppings – the body is naturally eliminating the liquid it doesn’t need.

As far as amounts, his main diet should be 80% of a science based, nutritionally balanced diet. This would be his Nutri-Berries and pellets. Nutri-Berries are formulated the same as a pellet, but they are not ground up. As for species-specific diets, these are based more on theories about some species possibly needing more of a certain nutrient or fat or protein level, but they are not backed up by any formal studies. The main concern with these is that while it is believed that Greys, for example, might need more calcium than other species, this has not been determined as a fact for the species as a whole, and it’s better to only add supplements if the Vet has diagnosed a deficiency. Too much of anything can be bad for a bird. The Grey diet you mentioned already has extra calcium, which may or may not be a good thing, so adding more is not recommended. Our Vets and nutrition experts have discussed nutrition and species-specific diets in some of our webinars, and I have shared that information with owners here. I will give you links to these replies as well as our nutrition webinars for you to review.

Experts do agree that it is best to avoid artificial colors, food coloring(ex FD&C Red, Yellow, etc.) and artificial flavors. Even a “natural” food coloring can be an issue if it is an actual food coloring and not a food that is used for color – such as beets for red, carrots for orange. A food coloring, natural or artificial, can possibly linked to issues with some birds, such as feather plucking. Greys seem to have sensitivity to artificial ingredients and food coloring, so Grey experts warn against anything with these in the ingredients. This is again an observation and hasn’t been proven, but most food companies, including Lafeber’s, have changed to all natural ingredients to avoid any food related issues in pet birds or they offer an all-natural version without the dyes.

His veggies, table foods and any healthy treats should be 20% of his daily diet. Offering the mixed veggies twice a day is fine, as long as the mount does not exceed the daily recommendation. This is because nutrients in fresh foods can vary greatly, depending on when and where it was grown, whether it is fresh, frozen or canned and other factors such as how it was harvested. While nutritional values are given, these are not a guarantee. This is why something like an all fresh “chop” diet is resulting in nutritional issues in pet birds. So the takeaway is to stick with a high quality, science based daily diet with other foods offered as a supplement for foraging exercise and variety.

Here are some links with more information:

Species specific diets

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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