Knowing how your budgie’s digestion works is valuable, especially if they ever get an upset stomach. Plus, it’s interesting to learn how they turn seeds into those tiny black and white droppings!
So let’s begin with,
Below, I’ve got a diagram that shows the critical parts of a bird’s digestive system and an explanation of how food moves through it.
After waking up with a yawn and a stretch, it hops over for breakfast. Whether in your home or the Australian grasslands, once it eats those delicious seeds, the food begins its journey through the budgie’s body.
Budgie digestion starts with the beak and tongue (red on the diagram above) when the budgie picks up a seed, manipulates it in its mouth, and peels off the outer hull. Once that is done, it swallows the seed and drops the hull.
The Crop: A Temporary Storage
After a budgie swallows a seed, it travels down a tube called the Esophagus (pale orange marking) into a special pouch called the Crop (yellow marking). The crop is like a little storage room where the food waits to be digested. It’s handy in the wild, where budgies might need to eat quickly and scoot away from danger.
Instead of taking time to chew each seed thoroughly, they can gobble up a bunch and store them in the crop. Then, when they’re safe from predators, they can relax and digest their meal in peace.
Related Post: Budgie Diet: Complete Feeding Guides for Budgies
When your budgie’s crop is full, you might notice a little bulge on the front of its chest. This lump, which sometimes leans to one side, is where the food is stored before digestion.
Stomach and Beyond
The crop releases small amounts of food into the digestive system throughout the day. This way, the bird gets a steady supply of energy and nutrients whenever needed.
After food leaves the crop, it moves into the Proventriculus (blue marking), the first part of a bird’s stomach. This part of the stomach is glandular, meaning it has glands that release substances into the stomach. It releases digestive juices to begin breaking down the food. It is also here that budgies produce ‘Crop Milk,’ a liquid fed to baby budgies.
Gizzard’s Contribution to Digestive Processes
So, the food is now mixed with digestive juices and begins to break down. It passes out of the first part of the stomach into the second part, called the Ventriculus or Gizzard (green marking). This is a muscular organ that crushes the food up with the digestive juices into a fluid mass. The gizzard contains pieces of grit the bird has eaten to assist the crushing.
Controversy Surrounding Grit in Bird Diets
There is some disagreement on whether budgie digestion requires grit. I will share my views, but you must decide what is best for your bird.
Birds that eat whole seeds rely on stone grit to crush up the seeds as the muscles alone struggle to do this. However, birds that hull their seeds, like budgies, have less requirement for stone grit. I believe that grit should be available regularly, but I do not think budgies need it all the time. I know of budgies that filled themselves up with stones and died, so I would suggest offering the grit once or twice a week for a day.
Types of Grit – Soluble and Insoluble
There’s a bit of confusion about the different types of grit for budgies. The kind they use in their gizzard to help grind up food is called insoluble grit. It’s made up of tiny stones that don’t dissolve in their stomach. Over time, these stones wear down and pass through the budgie, which means they need to be replaced now and then. That’s why it’s a good idea to give your budgie this type of grit occasionally.
The second type of grit is soluble grit. This is usually pieces of crushed oyster grit or similar. These are primarily made up of calcium. They pass into the gizzard and are crushed over time, enabling the budgie to absorb the calcium. This is an important source of nutrients for your budgie and should be offered regularly and at all times when breeding. Soluble grit is not suitable for crushing seeds like insoluble grit, and so is not a suitable replacement for stone grit.
Final Processes of Digestion
Now that we have strayed, let’s return to budgie digestion! The seeds have now been crushed and thoroughly mixed with the digestive juices and are ready to pass into the Small Intestine (brown marking).
The first part of the small intestine is called the duodenum. This is where extra fluids such as bile and enzymes are added to the food to assist digestion. These are then absorbed through the walls of the small intestine, effectively ‘sucking’ the nutrients from the food. The nutrients are then passed into the bloodstream and distributed around the body to where they are needed.
Understanding Cloaca (Droppings)
Once completed, the food remains are passed to the Cloaca and out of the bird as droppings. You will notice your budgie has droppings with two parts. The brownish or green bit is the faeces, the undigested food from the intestines. The white paste is uric acid, the equivalent of our urine.
This is produced by the kidneys as they filter waste out of the bloodstream and pass it down to the ureter and to the cloaca.
Birds, like budgies, have a speedy metabolism that helps them stay energetic and fly. This means they can digest their food really quickly, usually in about three hours.
I’m Shajid Rahman and I operate this website. I have the pleasure of sharing my home with three lively budgies, each with its own bright palette and personality. I made this website to discuss everything budgie and to share my knowledge. Whether you’re a budgie pro or just getting started, I’d love for you to join the flock.