A crop (sometimes also called a croup or a craw, or ingluvies) is a thin-walled expanded portion of the alimentary tract used for the storage of food prior to digestion. This anatomical structure is found in a wide variety of animals. It has been found in birds, some non-avian dinosaurs, and in invertebrate animals including gastropods (snails and slugs), earthworms, leeches, and insects.
In a bird's digestive system, the crop is an expanded, muscular pouch near the gullet or throat. It is a part of the digestive tract, essentially an enlarged part of the esophagus. As with most other organisms that have a crop, the crop is used to temporarily store food. Not all birds have a crop. In adult doves and pigeons, the crop can produce crop milk to feed newly hatched birds.
Scavenging birds, such as vultures, will gorge themselves when prey is abundant, causing their crop to bulge. They subsequently sit, sleepy or half torpid, to digest their food.
Most raptors, including hawks, eagles and vultures (as stated above), have a crop; however, owls do not. Similarly, all true quail (Old World quail and New World quail) have a crop, but the buttonquail or Turnicidae do not. While chickens and turkeys possess a crop, geese do not have one.
The fact that geese do not have crops occasioned what many consider to be the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes' — or rather author Arthur Conan Doyle's — greatest forensic blunder. In the The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, a large valuable gem is supposedly hidden in a goose's crop.
- Gular pouch, in bird anatomy, a flap generally used to store fish and other prey while hunting
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