Avian Tongue - Anatomy & Physiology

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The size and structure of the avian tongue varies between species. It is related to functional requirements.

Avian Tongue - Copyright RVC 2008

Structure and Function

The avian tongue is narrow, pointed and contains little intrinsic muscle. The enteroglossal bone is present consisting of bone and cartilage with medullary spaces containing red marrow. It is supported by the lingual process of the hyoid bone and rudimentary lingual muscles. It contains striated muscle fibres.


A few caudally directed horny papillae are present on the avian tongue. There is a thick stratified squamous epithelium. The tongue is keratinised and has mucoid glands, although has no taste buds. Lymphatic tissue is spread throughout the corium.

Species Differences

Parrots use their muscular tongue to lap water and to produce human sounds (see syrinx species differences).


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Avian Alimentary Tract

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