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How can birds taste? – Bird & Nature

How can birds taste?

Like humans, birds have five senses. They also have the ability to sense magnetic waves. The sense of taste is one of them, and it varies in strength from bird to bird. Compared to us humans, however, our winged friends taste very little. Why is that?

How does the sense of taste work?

In order for us to be able to taste something, molecules from food must stimulate our taste buds, also known as taste buds. These are on the tongue, in the palate and in the throat. The impulses that arise are passed on to our brain and allow us to perceive one of the five tastes: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami. Humans have between 2,000 and 4,000 taste buds, far better than birds.

This is what birds taste like

Unlike their eyes and ears, birds’ sense of taste tends to be less developed. They only have a few taste buds: duck and starling have about 200, while a bullfinch has only 46 of them. There is also a reason for this: many birds feed on plants that are full of bitter substances and that would otherwise not be edible. Despite this, birds can distinguish all four flavors from one another. Various studies show that birds spit out poisonous and bad-tasting insects and plants after they put them in their beaks – the reason for this is the taste buds at the tip of their beaks. Unlike humans, the tongue of birds is not very sensitive and is only partially responsible for the perception of taste. The nerves are distributed in different places in the oral cavity.

Another reason for the lack of taste is the type of food intake. Unlike us, birds do not chew their food. Their beak wasn’t designed for that, they lack strong teeth. They simply swallow the food in one piece. So that they do not run the risk of constantly eating poisonous food, the other senses such as sight are particularly well developed. For example, they can easily recognize strong warning colors.

Of fish, nectar and worms – a question of taste

Fish is their main food, and yet they don’t taste it: penguins lack the sense of taste umami. You can only tell the difference between salty and sour. Because taste buds are temperature sensitive and don’t work well in extreme cold, researchers suspect the buds may have regressed over time. In contrast, hummingbirds manage to detect different concentrations of sugars in nectar. Birds that eat fruit can also tell how ripe the berry is by the sugar content. Flavors are even more sophisticated in wading birds, which can taste the presence of worms in wet sand.

Cover photo by Couleur on Pixabay


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