can birds pee while flying

DEAR JOAN: This may be a weird question, but my wife and I are having a friendly debate on bird poop — I think it can be beneficial as fertilizer and she doesn’t — but we both suddenly realized that we’d never seen birds urinating.

New Pet Pal LogoWhere do birds go to pee? Do they pee while flying or do they have a secluded spot where they go?

It certainly isn’t an important question in the scope of things, but we are truly curious.

DEAR STAN: I love weird questions, and while it is true that this one won’t advance world peace or solve any of the other problems facing us, it’s certainly an important one to the birds.

The reason you don’t see birds urinating is because they don’t. Well, not in the traditional sense. Their pee is combined with their poop in a sort of two-for-one deal.

To understand the process, we should first look at how mammals do it. Our kidneys pull excess nitrogen from our blood stream, convert it to urea and store it in the bladder, which then empties it out through the urethra.

Birds, like humans, have kidneys that do the important job of removing the nitrogen but, with the exception of the ostrich, birds don’t have a bladder or urethra. Instead, they convert the nitrogen into uric acid, which is then mixed with solid waste from the intestines and expelled. The uric acid also is why bird poop is white instead of brown.

And to step in on your fertilizer debate, you both are sort of correct. Bird droppings can make a great additive to fertilizer or compost as it is high in phosphorus and some other nutrients that plants love. It generally shouldn’t be used alone as a fertilizer because at full strength it can burn your plants.

Bird droppings also can contain some nasty pathogens that aren’t good for us, so it should be used with caution and always in a compost mix.

Chicken manure is a great fertilizer, but it is so rich in nutrients that it isn’t safe to use until it has been aged for six months to a year.

DEAR JOAN: I understand the homeowner blaming dogs’ urine for garden damage, but realistically doesn’t the urine of wild animals like squirrels and raccoons and opossums and rats as well as outdoor cats damage plants as much or more? I know you’re a Master Gardener so you will have some insights for me.

DEAR KRISTEN: A little urine from any animal shouldn’t cause noticeable damage, but when the urine is concentrated in one area, plants can be burned. Animals that tend to pee in the same area are the ones that cause the most damage, and that includes dogs, cats, raccoons, deer and foxes.

I don’t know that wildlife could be blamed for most of the damage, but they certainly contribute.

If anyone sees her, please contact me so we can get her back to her owner.

But bird pee may be more complex than previously understood. A study published in 2020 in the Journal of Ornithology tested the chemical composition of six avian species pee and found no traces of uric acid. Instead, the scientists found compounds made of ammonium, magnesium and phosphate. Their results indicate that an unknown process modifies uric acid right before it exits the cloaca. Future studies with more bird species could help explain this mysterious transformation.

Reddy studies DNA using bird droppings, so it’s critical to her research that we know the precise makeup of bird poop. Her lab employs the excrement of endangered Charadrius melodus piping plovers as a non-invasive method of obtaining genetic samples that reveal details about the diets, microbiomes, and even illnesses of the birds. Pee DNA serves as “a lens into all these different things that we can tell about the birds,” according to Reddy. “.

Cloacas were also present in amphibians, reptiles, certain fish, and monotremes like platypuses, as well as in dinosaurs, the ancestors of birds. Reddy stated that this one-time waste excretion mechanism in birds was probably preserved from an evolutionary standpoint because it was a flight-related adaptation. Reddy stated that since maintaining flapping wings requires a lot of energy, birds must remain light, retain vital nutrients for extended flights, and eliminate unnecessary material from their bodies as soon as possible.

Birds convert nitrogen waste excreted by the kidneys into uric acid, which doesnt dissolve in water and comes out as a solid, as explained in a manual on “avian systems” from the University of Wisconsin-Madisons Extension Dodge County. This means birds can conserve water and dont need to carry around a heavy, full bladder.

Hannah Loss is a science journalist based in Boston. She has written about the environment for Sierra, Inside Climate News, and Scientific American. Hannah graduated from Tufts University with a B. A. in English and environmental studies. She graduated from NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program with a master’s degree in journalism. More about birds.

New Pet Pal LogoWhere do birds go to pee? Do they pee while flying or do they have a secluded spot where they go?

To add to your discussion about fertilizer, you are both partially correct. Bird droppings are rich in phosphorus and other nutrients that plants love, so they can be a great addition to compost or fertilizer. Because it can burn your plants when applied at full strength, it usually shouldn’t be used as a fertilizer on its own.

DEAR JOAN: I know this is a strange question, but my wife and I are debating whether or not bird poop makes good fertilizer. Suddenly, we both realized that we had never seen birds urinate.

Additionally, bird droppings should always be used in a compost mix and should be used carefully because they may contain harmful pathogens.

DEAR KRISTEN: Although small amounts of any animal’s urine shouldn’t harm surrounding vegetation, concentrated urine can burn The most destructive animals are those that have a tendency to urinate in the same spot, such as dogs, cats, raccoons, deer, and foxes.


Do birds pee liquid?

The answer lies in the fact that birds, unlike mammals, don’t produce urine. Instead they excrete nitrogenous wastes in the form of uric acid, which emerges as a white paste. And uric acid doesn’t dissolve in water easily.

Can birds poop mid flight?

Yes, birds do poop while flying. That’s not all they do while flying, either. Scientists have electroencephalographic (EEG) data that shows that Frigatebirds (Fregata minor, in this case) from the Galapagos islands, which often fly more than 3000km non-stop, even SLEEP while flying.

Why do we never see birds urinating?

Birds convert nitrogen to uric acid instead: this is metabolically more costly but saves water and weight, as it is less toxic and doesn’t need to be diluted so much. Birds therefore don’t have a urethra, and don’t pee – all waste leaves via the anus.

Can birds have urinary bladder?

Birds do not have a urinary bladder or external urethral opening. Uric acid is excreted along with feces as a semisolid waste. Although there are some exceptions like ostrich and rhea which have urinary bladder.