Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tongue of Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Previously, I posted a limited number of photos showing woodpeckers and hummingbird tongues. Today, I took video of the tongue of a male red-bellied woodpecker in action. When the snow was too deep to get needed suet to the feeders, I hung this feeder just outside of the porch windows.  Over the last few weeks, the birds - primarily the woodpeckers - continued to come and eat the suet. The cone shape is a result of the suet sticking to the top of the cage feeder and the reach of the woodpeckers' longer beaks.

When the suet cannot be reached with the beak, the woodpecker tongue - which as you will see is longer than the beak - does a great job at reaching the suet. Above is one frame from the below video in which you can clearly see the curved tongue coming out of the beak and touching the suet. Now take a look at the video below. Enjoy the video.

Where does this woodpecker store his tongue?  The tongue slides to the back of the head, loops upward around the back of the inside of the skull, and then forward around and under the eye.

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