Wild grey parrots are vegetarians, eating a wide range of fruits, flowers, seeds, nuts and young leaves and shoots. They have a preference for any food of a high nutritional value; this means they tend to favour foods with a high fat content, such as nuts and seeds, or a high sugar content, such as sweet, ripe fruits.

A grey's beak is apowerful, universal tool with sharp cutting edges which can be used with great skill. The beak is used in combination with the sensitive and muscular tongue to examine and manipulate items of food. Greys also  use their feet in combination with the beak to hold larger items of food when necessary (most greys use their left foot). Unlike most other birds, parrots use their beak in a chewing action to chop up food their into small pieces before swallowing. They also discard parts of the food which are poor in nutrients, such as the skins of grapes by using the beak to peel this off.

Food is rapidly digested

The food then passes into the bird's crop. The crop is an extension of the oesophagus, where food is stored before the next stages of digestion. It then passes to the proventriculus, a part of the bird's stomach where proper digestion begins as digestive juices are secreted and mixed with the food. Next, food passes to the gizzard. This is a muscular part of the stomach where food is ground down under great pressure from the grinding action of this part of the gut. The inner surface of the gizzard is as rough as sandpaper and the physical crushing of food here renders it into a paste. The food then passes into the duodenum and the intestines where the well-digested nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Indigestible items and
waste products are voided via the cloaca. Parrots retain as much water as their bodies need, so they do not pass large quantities of watery urine. Instead, they excrete uric acid as the white part of the droppings, again via the cloaca. A parrot's digestive system (its alimentary canal) is very short. This feature, combined with a bird's higher body temperatures, means food is easily digested within a few minutes. Some foods can pass right through a grey parrot in less than 30 minutes.

Bird dropping, birds excrete uric acid
as the white part of the droppings.


Parrots chew up their food into suitably sized
pieces with their beaks before swallowing it.


Using the foot as a hand, greys can tackle a
wide range of hard-shelled nuts quite easily.



This Timneh grey deftly removes the skin
of a grape and swallows the fruit pulp only.
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