How do birds decide what items are edible?

This was a question that was posed recently over a quiet pint and fascinated me enough to make me reach for my reference books.

Birds apparently can taste and smell, although how well birds taste is still unclear.  Birds have a few taste buds on the rear of their tongues and on the floor of the cavity forming the upper part of the gullet.  Chickens have about 24 and a pigeon 37, which is negligible compared with the 10,000 we human beings possess.

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