Baby Bird Crop Not Emptying (4 Reasons Why)

Baby birds are fragile creatures, they come out of their shells not being able to eat many types of foods never mind take care of themselves. These animals use a variety of organs to digest food, digestion is one of the most important activities that birds do. Because digestion is so crucial, it is important that all parts of the animals digestive system are in tip-top shape at all times. One very important part of a birds digestive system is the crop, if something is wrong with the crop, for example, if the crop is not emptying, this can be very bad for birds. This article explores why this happens 

If a baby birds crop is not emptying the reasons behind this may include: the bird was given formula that is too thick, the bird was given formula that is too cold, foreign bodies may be present in the bird’s crop or the bird may be dehydrated


Baby bird crop not emptying, reasons why this happens

The crop is where food is temporarily stored before digestion happens. Food can only be kept in the crop for a short period of time, if food is kept in the crop for too long the bird can develop issues. A baby birds crop should be well rounded after eating but should reduce in size over time. There are a variety of reasons why a baby birds crop is not emptying including: 

Too thick formula: Baby birds cannot pass solids very easily, because of this, the formula that you give them needs to be quite thin. If you give the bird formula that is too thick it can get stuck in the crop and won’t travel into the birds two stomachs. 

Too cold formula: Certain formulas thicken up the colder they get, this thickened formula can get stuck in the animal’s crop. That being said, if the formula is too hot it can cause crop burn. The correct temperature that formula is meant to be at when feeding baby birds is 38-41°C (100-105°F) 

Dehydration: Dehydration can cause the food in the crop to dry up and not be able to pass through the crop. If this is the case, the bird will look redder than usual. In addition, the bird’s breast bone will protrude more

Foreign bodies in the crop: Foods given to baby birds need to be smooth for them to easily pass through the bird. If a foreign body enters the bird’s crop this can cause the crop to not empty. You can massage the crop to test if this is the reason behind the baby birds crop not emptying. When massaging, you may feel lumps in the crop, this is a confirmation that there is a foreign body hindering the crop from emptying 

How long does it take for a baby bird’s crop to empty?

Baby birds need to be fed very often, as soon as their crops run low, and start to empty, they need to be fed again. A birds crop will empty 4 hours after its last feeding. Ideally, the crop should not have to completely empty before you feed the bird again, this ensures that the bird has food available to make energy and grow its body at all times.

What does an empty crop look like?

An empty crop simply looks like a flat neck with no bulge, this can easily be seen on younger birds. Younger birds do not have many wings which would otherwise cover the crop whether the crop is empty or full. A flat crop will simply look like the opposite of a bulge at the bottom of a birds neck. If you’re examining birds that have more developed feathers, you’ll likely have a harder time finding the crop because the bird is larger making the crop less visible.

What does an empty crop feel like? 

When you touch the bottom of a birds neck, it will “give” if the crop is empty. In addition, if you know what your bird weighs when its crop is full, it will feel lighter when its crop is empty, the bird may be a couple of ounces lighter when you pick it up when its crop is empty.


In conclusion, the reasons why a birds crop is not emptying may be because the bird is dehydrated because the formula given to the bird is too thick, because there are foreign objects in the bird’s food or because the formula given to the bird is too cold.

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other baby bird related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Baby bird crop too full, why and what to do, Baby bird crop full of air, why and what to do, Baby chick has a swollen crop, why this happens

Baby Bird Crop Not Emptying (4 Reasons Why)
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