Do Birds Have Teeth?

April 15, 2009
Open wide! Birds, like this Bald Eagle, don Open wide! Birds, like this Bald Eagle, don't have teeth, but they do have other adaptations to help them break down food. Photo by Joe via Birdshare.
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Birds do not have teeth, although they may have ridges on their bills that help them grip food. Birds swallow their food whole, and their gizzard (a muscular part of their stomach) grinds up the food so they can digest it. Gizzards can be amazingly powerful—some birds such as scaup and eiders swallow clams and mussels whole, letting their gizzards pulverize the shells.

So what about birds that have “tooth” in their name, like Double-toothed Kite? Some birds of prey have a sharp ridge or “tomial tooth” on the bill that they use to bite into their prey when subduing it. But these modifications to the bill surface are not considered the same thing as individualized teeth seen in other animals.

For more about bird anatomy, visit Bird Academy.


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