A bird’s stomach is divided into two parts. The first part is a lot like our stomach; it’s filled with digestive juices to break down food. But the second part — that’s the bird’s gizzard. It’s a strong, muscular pouch that breaks down hard foods like seeds and nuts.
Giblets and Gizzards
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Wild Turkey gobbling]
If you made giblet (JIB-lit) gravy for your Thanksgiving feast, you used the turkey’s vital organs – its heart, liver, and gizzard. Now, those first two are familiar enough, but what the heck is a gizzard?
A bird’s stomach is divided into two parts. The first part is a lot like your stomach; it’s filled with digestive juices to break down food. But the second part — that’s the bird’s gizzard.
The gizzard is a strong, muscular pouch that breaks down hard foods like seeds and nuts. Birds will often swallow bits of gravel and sand, which go to the gizzard to help crush up the food.
Waterfowl, like ducks, slurp up grit they find on the bottoms of lakes to help their digestion. Birds like turkeys, quail, doves, and finches are often seen pecking the ground for grit to help their gizzards break down all the tough seeds they eat.
So while the gizzard may be a delicacy for us, it’s a key part of digestion for some birds.
For BirdNote, I’m Ashley Ahearn.
Support for BirdNote comes from American Bird Conservancy and Bringing Back the Birds, a photo book by Owen Deutsch on the importance of protecting birdscapes. Available at amazon dot com.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Ashley Ahearn
Wild Turkey gobbling recorded by Martyn Stewart
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote November 2019
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