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My understanding, that may be wrong, is that cellulose/fibre has little nutritional value to many animals because it's hard to break down thus making consumption inefficient. However, Ruminating mammals, other mammals such as black bears, and many insects such as grasshoppers digest grasses.

Are there any birds with the gut flora to break down fibre? Or even some that eat grass but digest it in another way?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The hoatzin has a digestive system that makes use of bacterial fermentation. Many other birds also consume grass, e.g. ostriches, ducks and geese.

There's also a large body of literature on how birds can digest cellulose.

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+1 It could also be noted that the fact that Canada Geese eat grass is one of the reasons that they are thriving (i.e., a nuisance) in the human constructed suburban environment of lawns and ponds. –  KennyPeanuts Feb 18 '13 at 14:39

My society finch love to eat moist grass particularly orchard grass. Nibbling the whole strand they have chosen back and forth until they are satisfied with the texture and then proceeds to swallow it. They brake most grass into no bigger than an inch in length. I buy the orchard grass from most pet stores. problem with that is the grass has been dried. not very suitable for eating but Fantastic Four nesting. I grab a handful of dry grass and mist it with water then place it in a plastic sandwich bag, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Do not completely seal the bag. When i place it in the enclosure its like bird ice cream. fantastic treat!

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Welcome to Biology SE and thanks for your interesting comment on your finches. However, while this answer would be more than suitable at Pets.SE, here at Bio.SE we expect a little bit more science behind answers. I have flagged it to be converted into a comment instead. Once you gain enough reputation you can place comments anywhere. –  AliceD Mar 5 at 1:48
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If possible can you add a picture or something. –  WYSIWYG Mar 5 at 5:23

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