Forest Ang photographed a Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) at a park in Penang, Malaysia one day in June 2009. On examining his images in the comfort of his home, he was intrigued by one of the images. The feathers around the posterior opening of the myna, the vent, showed signs that air was being passed out. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the term vent, this is the common opening through which faeces from the digestive system, uric acid from the excretory system and sperm or egg from the reproductive system pass.
So Forest asked a pertinent question: “Can birds fart?” He was unable to confirm that the bird made any farting sound when he was photographing it. After all, the place was noisy with many people around.
The web is full of answers to the question, with conflicting views.
Backyard Birding has this to say: “…any animal which eats generates gas and this gas must go somewhere. So while birds possess a relatively short intestinal tract, thus producing a smaller amount of gas, they do produce some. And it is expelled through the normal means.”
Laura’s Birding Blog says no. There is no “noticeable eruptions of significant volumes of intestinal gas. Avian intestines are short and evacuate wastes frequently. Any gases produced in digestion leak out as fast as they’re produced, so there isn’t the opportunity for build-up that leads to those explosive releases we cheerfully or disgustedly call farts.”
However, Mike Murray, a veterinarian at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, has this to say: “It’s not that they can’t. They just don’t need to. Birds have the anatomical and physical ability to pass gas, but if I saw gas in a bird’s gastrointestinal tract on an x-ray, I’d suspect that something abnormal was going on in there.”
We believe that birds do fart, maybe under certain circumstances. After all, photographic evidence proves that the Common Myna in the picture actually passed wind.