Do Birds Have Tongues?

Do birds have tongues? Yes, all birds have tongues just like us. All birds have tounges of different sizes and shapes. They use their tongue to eat food. Emus, ostriches, and kiwis have the smallest tounges,

Do Birds Have Tongues?

Do Birds Have Tongues?

There is a good chance you’ve pondered about birds’ tongues. To the best of my knowledge, yes, all birds do possess tongues. Most bird tongues seem like human tongues, yet they are used for different functions.

In addition, birds have a variety of tongues that they may use to search for food. In certain birds, the end of their tongues is divided, whereas, in others, the end of their tongues contain barbs that point backward.

These barbs aid in moving food from the mouth to the gullet. Because birds don’t eat as we do, they don’t have to swallow as much food as we do. On the other hand, humans have around 10,000 taste buds, most of which are concentrated on the tongue.

Unlike humans, birds have taste receptors, but their number is far less than ours. The number of taste buds in parrots ranges from 300 to 400, but those in pigeons range from 27 to 59, and those in hens range from 24 to just 27.


Depending on the species, birds’ taste buds are located on the floor or roof of their mouths or near the base of their tongues. Birds can taste salt, sugar, brine, fats, and sweet and savory foods.

General Physiology Of A Bird’s Tongue

All bird tongues are unique in terms of their physiology. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Parts Explanation
The bones Bones and cartilage are found in the tongues of all birds. The hyoid apparatus, which makes it easier to move the tongue, is located here.
The epithelium The bird’s tongue is covered with a layer of cells called the epithelium. At the tip of certain birds’ tongues is a hardened coating.
Lingual Nail Lingual Nail To harvest seeds and grains, these birds use their tongues as spoons, which are formed of keratin.
Papillae Birds of prey and geese have papillae on their tongues, which are barb-like structures.
Salivary Glands Salivary glands are found on the tongues of all birds. Saliva is produced by these devices, much like the saliva produced by human tongues.
Different Colors and Markings Bird tongues exist in various forms, sizes, colors, and patterns, much like birds. Birds with speckled or even multicolored bands on their tongues are not uncommon.

Different Tongues For Different Purposes

You’d think that their tongues would also be distinctive because there are so many different kinds of birds on the earth. Let’s see some tongue shapes.

1. Hummingbird Tongues

The tongues of hummingbirds are forked at the tip, making them look like long, thin snakes. They’ve shortened their beaks to make it easier for them to get nectar from the blooms they adore.

Like a straw, the forked ends of the tongue tend to be curled lengthwise. The ends of the nectar uncurl and then curl back up as the bird removes its tongue from the nectar.

This permits the bird to get as much nectar as possible from a flower or hummingbird feeder each time it dips its tongue. The hummingbird is then supposed to employ capillary action to bring nectar up its tongue and into its gullet.

2. Woodpecker Tongues

Additionally, woodpeckers have long tongues that can reach far beyond their beaks. In contrast to other woodpecker species, certain woodpeckers have tongues covered with a sticky substance.

Using this method, birds may readily snatch insects from tree fissures beneath the bark. They can even stab insects with the small barbs on their tongues.

3. Birds Of Prey Tongues

Tongue size can vary greatly amongst birds of prey, such as birds of prey. They utilize their beaks and talons to rip apart their prey.

On the other hand, these birds have spines on the back of their tongues that face inward. This aids in the digestion of the prey. Intriguingly, vultures’ tongues have these spines on the exterior. To get both muscle and flesh, they use this technique.

4. Penguin Tongues

Penguins’ tongues have evolved to deal with the slickness of fish they consume. Tiny spines or barb-like projections cover their bodies, which makes them difficult to handle. The backward-facing spines are referred to as papillae.

These spines seem like small fangs at first glance. They’re formed of keratin, which is hard yet pliable, and they’re fairly sharp.

5. Duck Tongues

Like penguins, although not as deep, the spines on ducks’ tongues are present. Mud and shallow water are preferred habitats for ducks to hunt for food. They use their tongues as pumps to remove the muck and water.

6. Nectar Eating Birds

Protrusions on the tips of the tongues of nectar-eating birds like parrots and lorikeets are common. A brush or fraying at the end of the tongue results from this. This increases the tongue’s surface area, allowing the bird to swat nectar in greater quantities.

7. The Tongues Of Flightless Birds

Emus, ostriches, and kiwis, all of which cannot fly, have very small tongues. Tiny and triangular, they seldom extend beyond their beaks. Moreover, they don’t appear to provide specific feeding or capture food functions.

Note: They suck up mud and water by lowering their tongues. Afterward, they use their tongue to scrape away any remaining dirt or water from the roof of their mouth, leaving only the metal particles.

Bird Tongues

Birders quickly master the art of species identification through bird bills. In addition, if we could see birds’ tongues, we could use them to distinguish different species. Thanks to evolution, there are a wide variety of bird tongues; however, this site is here only to pique your interest.

Firstly, the tongues of most birds are mundane. In general, they resemble ours in appearance, although they may have additional capabilities. The tongue’s root may feature backward-facing barbs or be fringed or divided at the tips.

It’s unclear if the splitting or fraying aids in food acquisition and consumption, although the backward-facing barb aids food transportation to the gullet. It’s necessary since birds don’t wallow as humans do.

Thickness, breadth, barbs, and other characteristics of these tongues are all highly variable. For example, woodpeckers and hummingbird species have tongues that are more intriguing. The tongues of several of these birds may extend well beyond the beak.

Note: Woodpeckers, for example, have barbed or sticky fluid-coated tongue tips for catching insects. Sapsuckers have shortened tongues with hair-like structures to extract sap from trees.

What Are Some Features of Birds’ Tongues?

In birds, tiny hairs called “papillae” cover protein-digesting enzymes on their tongue, aiding digestion by trapping food particles. The crest of papillae on the back of the tongues of some birds, such as penguins and geese, makes swallowing simpler.

Although these barbs may look like teeth to an untrained eye, they are keratin spikes that help the birds hold onto food, such as fish, more firmly than a normal tongue.

To make swallowing easier and keep germs at bay, birds’ beaks are equipped with salivary glands near the base of their tongue.

Why Do Some Parrots Have Black Tongues?

The color of its beak often determines the color of a parrot’s tongue. It is possible to find a black-tongued parrot. However, numerous parrots have colorful tongues.

A parrot’s black tongue is still a mystery to scientists. The tongue’s color is very comparable to the color of the beak, which must have been blackish-brown for the color of the tongue to match.

At the same time, while it isn’t necessarily an indication of illness or infection in parrots that their tongues turn black, it is wise to consult an avian expert as soon as you observe a dramatic change in the color of the tongue.

There’s nothing wrong with a black tongue; the question is how to deal with a shift in hue from black to another. The tongues of parrots can be used to touch, lick, taste, imitate, or speak.


Five bones make up the tongue of a parrot. The hyoid apparatus consists of these five bones. The tongue is held in place by the hyoid apparatus. Their tongue is made up of the epibranchial, ceratobranchial, urohyal, basihyal, and paraglossal bones.


Some related questions are given below:

1 - Do parrots have tongues?

A lingual nail, comprised of keratin, is the hardened yet flexible tip of a parrot’s tongue. Their mouth acts as a spoon, allowing them to scoop up seed and grain.

2 - Which bird does not have a tongue?

Emus, ostriches, and kiwis, all of which cannot fly, have very small tongues. Small, triangular, and barely reaching the tip of their beaks, they are the most common species. Moreover, they don’t appear to provide specific feeding or capture food functions.

3 - Do birds have tongues?

Certain birds, however, lick their beaks to clean the inside of their mouths. Certain parrots and lovebirds may lick their owners’ fingers to obtain their owners’ attention.

4 - Do pigeons have tongues?

Pigeons have “piston” tongues, similar to drinking straws in allowing them to suck their food. This eliminates the need to bend their heads back to swallow water.

5 - Do birds have teeth?

The bills and tongues of birds may contain ridges that help them grasp food when they are foraging, but birds do not have teeth. They don’t require teeth to chew their food since they just swallow it whole instead of chewing it first. In the gizzard, a portion of a bird’s stomach, food is crushed to a fine powder, which aids digestion.

6 - Do crows have tongues?

All birds, including crows, have tongues. Crows use their tongues to transfer food to their nestlings in several ways, one of which is to hold the food they’ve gathered under their tongue while they return it to their young.

7 - Do birds kiss?

It’s natural to be curious when you witness your pet birds making intimate contact, but do birds kiss? Birds may be taught to create a kissing sound by bumping their beaks against a human’s cheek when courting or preening.

8 - Do birds fall in love?

New research shows that birds experience relationship strife the same way humans do. A new study reveals that birds and humans are frequently very similar when it comes to choosing a partner and falling in love.

9 - Do fish have tongues?

Fish use their tongues to transfer food into and through their mouths, where additional jaws are used to ground the meal into a fine powder. With the aid of the tongue, fish can breathe by sucking in oxygen-rich blood from their surroundings.

10 - What does a fish eat?

Fish consume flies, mayflies, midges, and beetles. Fish consume super worms, mealworms, bloom bugs, leeches, and nightcrawlers. Larger fish eat rodents, mice, lizards, frogs, turtles, and smaller fish.


You now know for sure that birds all have tongues. It’s as diverse as the bird species in terms of size and form. When eating, most birds rely on their tongues for assistance. Some bird tongues have a hardened keratin tip, which adds to the complexity.

The tongues of certain birds, like the woodpecker, contain a sticky material that they use to capture insects, whereas the tongues of others have backward-facing barbs. Even while birds’ tongues have taste buds, they don’t have nearly the number of taste buds that human tongues have.

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