At breakfast this morning on the patio of a local Tex-Mex joint, we watched grackles come to blows over a stolen packet of sugar. Someone commented that it was too bad they couldn’t lap up the spilled sugar like a cat which led to the question: do birds even have saliva? Every bird mouth (and I’m thiking mstly of parrots and their fat little pickle tongues) I’ve ever seen has seemed dry and I’ve never heard of a bird drooling. But I guess you need saliva to swallow, right? Any avianphile Dopers know the answer?
Since birds don’t chew their food, most don’t produce much salive. However, some do put it to specialized uses. Woodpeckers, for example, have sticky saliva which helps them extract insects from tunnels in wood. Many swifts use sticky saliva to glue their nests together. This is taken to an extreme by one species which constructs its nest entirely out of dried salive. These nests are used in Asia to make bird’s nest soup.