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Digestive system

Glittering-bellied Emerald
Glittering-bellied Emerald
Chlorostilbon aureoventris
Credit: Janine White
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As is the case for other birds, the digestive system of hummingbirds is divided into three sections. The first is composed of the oral apparatus, including the beak, mouth, salivary glands, a few taste buds and the tongue. The beak is adapted to the shape of flowers. The tongue alone merits attention. Another section includes the esophagus and gizzard. The gizzard is a kind of extensible pocket where solid food (insects, spiders and pollen) is moistened by mucus. The third section is the stomach. Hummingbirds have a distinctive stomach. The entrance of the first part of the stomach (proventriculus) is particularly close to the exit of the second portion of the stomach (ventriculus) in such a way that the nectar goes through via a shortcut so it is immediately directed to the small intestine where it is absorbed. Only solid particles of food pass through the first and second parts of the stomach.

The world of the hummingbird, Robert Burton, Firefly Book, 2001
Credit: The world of the hummingbird, Robert Burton, Firefly Book, 2001
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