Birds Eating Dog Poops: Causes, Risks, & Solution

It’s a common sight during a walk that your dog poos and before you stroll past the place again, you find a bird eating the fresh pile. Crows, jays, magpies, and gulls are birds that eat dog poop. This may seem gross and shocking, but there’s an evolutionary reason some birds are drawn to canine feces.

This natural yet nauseating behavior raises so many questions for dog owners. Do all birds eat poop? Why do some target your dog’s waste while others steer clear? And most worryingly, does this pose any risks to your pet’s health? You will find this article helpful.

eagle eating waste

Why Birds Might Want to Eat Dog Poop

Dog poop contains many nutrients that are beneficial for birds. Dog feces contain partially digested food that is high in protein, fat, and nutrients. The high-fat content provides birds with an excellent source of energy. 

Birds have very fast metabolisms and require a lot of energy to support their constant activity. They are always searching for calorie-dense foods to fuel their high-energy needs. The proteins and fats present in dog poop make it an attractive supplemental food source.

Additionally, dog feces contain vitamins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus that are scarce in birds’ regular diets. Eating dog poop allows birds like crows and seagulls to meet their nutritional requirement. This nutritional value in dog poop helps explain why some bird species have evolved to include feces as part of their feeding habits.

Risks of Eating Dog Poop

Eating dog poop poses a number of potential health risks for birds and the surroundings at large. Dog feces can contain harmful parasites, bacteria, and chemicals that may make birds sick. The other side is, the birds can aid the transmission of parasites through their feces.

Some key risks include the transfer of:

– Parasites: Dog feces often contain intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, or giardia. If birds ingest feces with parasite eggs, the parasites can take up residence in their digestive system and cause illness. The birds pass out these parasites into water bodies like streams or oceans to further spread the parasites to humans.

– Bacteria: Dog poop may contain pathogenic bacteria like E. coli, salmonella or Campylobacter. These bacteria can spread to birds through feces and cause bacterial infections that lead to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and other symptoms. Salmonella is of particular concern for bird health.

– Chemicals: Chemicals like medication residues can pass through a dog’s system into their feces. Birds that eat contaminated poop may be exposed to toxic chemicals that can build up in their tissues over time.

These parasitic, bacterial, and chemical risks make eating dog waste very hazardous to a bird’s and human health.

Related: Four Main Worms In Dog Poop (With Pictures) & Their Treatments

Bird Species Known to Eat Poop

Several bird species are known to regularly eat dog poop as part of their diet, attracted by the enhanced nutrition and richer flavor compared to their normal foods. Some well-documented examples include:

1. Crows: American crows are extremely intelligent birds that will eat just about anything, including dog poop, for the nutritional benefits. They have even been observed purposefully leaving nuts and hard foods on the road to be crushed by cars, then swooping down to eat them afterward.

2. Seagulls: Opportunistic feeders, seagulls are notorious for eating anything from human food scraps to dog poop. Like crows, they are attracted to the rich nutritional composition of dog feces compared to some of their normal diet options. Seagulls are found in parks and beaches where off-leash dogs are common.

3. Vultures: As scavengers focused on eating carrion and decomposing animals, vultures will readily consume dog feces as they contain digested organic matter and leftovers from the dog’s diet. Turkey vultures and black vultures are among the species known to eat poop.

4. Pigeons: City pigeons are also opportunistic omnivores that will eat a wide variety of foods. They are sometimes observed pecking at and consuming dog feces, likely for the undigested food contents that contain useful nutrients these urban birds may have difficulty finding otherwise.

5. Chickens: Barnyard chickens and wild junglefowl will eat dried, pellet-form dog poop which provides protein, salts, and minerals that their typical plant-based diet may lack. However, they likely avoid moist and fresh feces to reduce disease risks.

6. Some game birds: Upland game birds like grouse, quail, and pheasant may occasionally eat dog poop, especially in the winter when food is scarce. The high protein gives them a nutritional boost.

Bird Feeding Habits

Birds have different strategies for finding food; these strategies are based on factors like habitat, size, and traits. Generally, the feeding behaviors in birds fall into two main categories: scavenging and hunting.

Scavenging birds like vultures, gulls, and crows rely on finding animal and plant matter left behind by others to sustain themselves. Scavenger birds have excellent eyesight to help spot carrion from high vantage points or keen senses of smell to detect decomposing organic matter.

The beaks and talons of these birds are adapted for tearing flesh and accessing bone marrow. Since scavenged food sources are unpredictable, Scavenger birds often have high mobility and wide ranges to cover more ground.

In contrast, hunting birds actively pursue and capture live prey. Raptors like eagles, hawks, and owls have strong grasping talons and sharp hooked beaks optimized for killing and consuming animals like rodents, fish, or other birds.

Songbirds such as chickadees and woodpeckers use their beaks to probe, hammer, and flake bark while foraging for insects. Wading birds including herons and spoonbills sweep their specialized bills side-to-side in shallow water to hunt for fish.

While some birds strictly scavenge and others are dedicated hunters, there is overlap between these feeding strategies. Opportunistic birds like crows or gulls will hunt food in addition to scavenging. And predators sometimes scavenge if they come across an already dead animal.

Related: Do Possums Eat Dog Poop: Why & The Risk Involved

End Note

While many birds are known to eat poop, and some certainly consume dog waste opportunistically, they tend to prefer other natural food sources. With proper pet waste management, any risks to birds from consuming dog feces should be minimal.