Well, not a big crab by Fisherman’s Wharf standards, but big for a Willet. This crab’s body is almost the same diameter as the bird’s head. Then there’s all the wiggly extensions. This crab is not going gently into that good night. Even when 90 per cent of it is in the bird’s craw, it’s still kicking, as you can see from bumps in the bird’s neck. With the crab stuck in its craw, the bird looked like it might be in trouble finishing this meal. But the bird unhinged its jaws and presto, the crab slid down the hatch. End of story.
The Willet’s digestive system will pass the crab into the proventiculum or chemical stomach, where digestive acids go to work breaking down the meal into its elements. Then it goes to the gizzard, where strong muscles possibly aided by gravel will grind the crab’s body into a crusty mush. The meal may go back and forth between these two stomachs several times. The remaining edible soft parts will then pass into the small intestine, and eventually out as poop. The shards of the inedible exoskeleton will get compacted into a pellet that the bird will vomit up when ready.
If any reader can identify the type of crab involved here please use the Comment field below. Thank you.