Do birds fart?

That’s not my question. It’s apparently the question many curious people asked Google.

In fact, so many people asked that particular question that when you type “Do birds … ” in the ubiquitous search engine, autocomplete offers to finish the question with “fart?” And sometimes “pee?”.

I guess lot of folks want to know about avian gastric distress and elimination.

So, here are answers to some of the most common do, why, when and how questions asked about birds:

Birds don’t fart. They digest food so quickly that there’s no time to manufacture a fart. And they don’t really pee, either. All their waste is evacuated from a single orifice in a sort of slurry that sticks like crazy to cars.

Do birds sleep? Have ears? Yes, they sleep. Yes, they have ears, the usual number, hidden beneath head feathers.

Why do birds get electrocuted? If you sit on one power line and let your wing touch another, you will have a flashy ending.

Why do birds migrate? They do so to find a climate that provides food. And to get away from their parents. No kidding. Once they’re done with the nest bit, parent birds mostly ignore their offspring. There’s no empty nest syndrome here.

Why do they call it birds and bees? That’s something a parent should have told you before you left.

What do birds eat? Birds eat many things — bugs, vegetables, fruit, small mammals and sometimes each other. But the menu varies by species. Hummingbirds rely on nectar. Gulls and crows eat just about anything.

What do birds sing about? Again, many things. They sometimes sing about an abundance of food.

When do birds sleep? They sleep mostly at night, unless they are owls. Birds sometimes will close their eyes, one or both, in daytime, but they tend to be resting, or bored.

When do birds migrate? They migrate in fall and spring, changing direction by season.

Do birds ever get hit by lightning? Move their babies? It’s doubtful about lightning. Also about the baby thing. Feeding their young is so taxing that birds rarely build a second nest for one hatch.

Will birds eat rice? Oats? Tomatoes? Rat poison? Yes, yes, yes and we hope not.

How do birds mate? Fly? Sleep? Reproduce? Bird sex is quick and very basic. Birds fly using sophisticated principles of physics, of which they know nothing. They sleep fitfully; they can put half of their brain to sleep and function with the other half. Birds reproduce via that quick sex, then produce eggs that need incubation, which produces chicks that need endless feeding.

Can birds get fleas? Oh, yes. Fleas, mites, ticks, flies, lice and more. There are at least 41 species of bird lice alone. But remember, these are bird parasites. We humans have our own parasites.

But that’s another series of Google questions. A series we have no intention of answering here.


Lifelong birder Jim Williams can be reached at Join his conversation about birds at