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Besides the stomach, the
tract of many bird species includes a
further part that is characteristic for these animals and cannot be
found in our human digestive tract: the crop. It is
a bag-like expanded portion close to the oesophagus. Since birds have no teeth,
they swallow their food whole or in rough pieces. For example budgies
eat whole grains and seeds or pieces of fresh food such as vegetables or fruit.
After swallowing the food it is stored temporarily in the crop. The food is
also pre-digested by the aid of a secretion produced by a bird's body.
The crop plays an important role while birds raise their chicks: Budgies and other birds regurgitate their food and feed their chicks with it. This is an adaptation to their life in nature where the feeding grounds are often far away from the places where the birds nest. So they have to carry the food with them and take it to their chicks.
Compared to other bird species, budgies possess a quite large crop which is also very flexible. One can see that best when budgies are just a few days old or when they suffer from a plumage defect like the bird who is shown in the photo on top of this page. The inner parts of the crop are covered with a sensitive mucous membrane which could easily be hurt in case a bird has swallowed a piece of plastic or something comparable. Bacteria, yeasts and even parasites can settle in the crop and lead to a condition that is often called a "sour crop". As mentioned above, this health problem can be caused by a wide variety of germs and therefore it is important to examine a smear and find out which germs you have to deal with in each individual case. Only if you know which have lead to an illness you can choose the right drugs. This is very important, because a sour crop can be life-threatening if it's not properly treated!
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