About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Photo Share: Woodpecker tongue close-up

Hi Sarah,
This is our first Hairy Woodpecker. We’ve always had the Downys, there is no mistaking these guys once you see one, a huge difference in the size. I couldn’t believe his tongue. ~ Holly



Most people know woodpeckers use their beak like a chisel searching for insect larvae in the barks of trees. But the bugs don’t want to get eaten and they tuck tight in tiny crevices to hide. That’s when the woodpecker has to pull out a secret weapon, his tongue. Holly managed to capture a beautiful close-up of a Hairy Woodpecker’s tongue at her suet feeder.

Woodpeckers’ tongues act like a spear with sticky barbs that can extend up to 4 inches. The tongue starts out on top of the mouth, passes through the right nostril, between the eyes, divides in two, arches over the top of the skull and around the back part of the skull passing on either side of the neck, coming forward through the lower mouth.

Tiny bones within the entire length of woodpecker's tongue fold up like an accordion. When a woodpecker contracts his muscles the tongue is propelled out of the bill. When the muscles relax the tongue shortens. The woodpeckers' tongue is also super sensitive. It contains muscles that move it side to side as well to search for food and feel for unseen insects behind dead wood.

Thank you for sharing your photos! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.  

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