Do Ducks Have Gizzards? (What Does It Do?)

Ducks, just like chickens, turkeys, and geese, have a gizzard, an organ with the purpose of helping the bird’s digestion of particularly hard materials like shells, rocks, sand.

Ducks are known to swallow basically almost everything that they can come across, so the gizzard (or muscular stomach) is an essential part of their digestive system as it grinds these particles, getting ready to be digested.

What Is A Gizzard?

Photo by Gero Camp on Unsplash

The word “gizzard” comes from an Old French word meaning gut and relates to the stomach. However, it has been more loosely used for a gastric mill found in several animal species, including birds (e.g., hummingbirds) and reptiles as well as fish (e.g., Serrasalmus).

Some common bird species have a functional gizzard, while others have an organ that performs the same function.

The stiff, muscular gizzard of some birds is a mass of fine and coarse fibers which function to grind food particles in preparation for digestion. This grinding action is referred to as gastric milling and has two purposes: to break down food into smaller components for easier digestion and to stimulate the release of digestive juices into the gut.

The muscles are composed of circular or spiral bands which contract rhythmically (cyclically) throughout the gizzard. These contractions sometimes can result in audible clicking noises. The function of this process is important in helping birds digest their food efficiently since little digestion takes place internally; thus they must consume their food more quickly than other animals (without this advantage of rapid digestion rate, they could not survive on such small food portions).

Birds with a functional gizzard grind their meat, bones, gravel and other indigestible plant materials against one of the gizzard stones. The sand-sized particles are churned into smaller pieces and then passed through the gizzard glands, a series of tubes that produce digestive juice to soften and break down the food.

The stomach is a large, muscular organ that is organized in the same manner as in mammals. It has two distinct halves: a small upper or anterior stomach, which contains pepsinogen (an enzyme) and several hydrochloric acids ready to be secreted into the small intestine if needed, and an expansive lower or posterior stomach that can be compared to an accordion. The gizzard may consist of many layers with different textures between each layer that help break food down further as it passes through.

Where Is A Ducks Gizzard?

Gizzards are situated behind the last portion of the duodenum. A normal gizzard is oval shaped, elongated, semi-lunar in shape, and robust. It is surrounded by an albuminous capsule which is an extension of the carina.

Gizzards are the best organs for stocking up roughage (chitin or conchiolin) to help food be properly digested. The gizzard of birds is not only used for grinding food but it also acts as a filter or sieve. Gizzards have grooves that aid in this process as well as smaller chambers, called pyloric glands, where digestive enzymes are produced.

What Are Gizzard Stones?

Gizzard stones are hard, irregularly shaped pieces of animal tissue, rocks, wood that are swallowed to be used as grit to aid in food digestion.

The gizzard stones are used by ducks to help aid in the grinding of their food. The birds may eat the coarser parts of a plant first and then digest the finer parts further into their stomachs before these finer portions cause problems for the birds’ digestive systems.

What Other Animal Have Gizzards?

Gizzards are found mainly in birds like ducks, turkeys, geese, chickens, and parrots. But also reptiles like crocodiles and alligators have one.

It is also found in some fishes and crustaceans.


Ducks have gizzards, an organ that is the first to break down the food before it is digested in the stomach.

It is important mostly for when the bird swallows harder materials that may cause more harm to the bird’s digestive system since it will be to difficult for the stomach to process them.


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