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What is special about this bird's tongue?

Answer:

This is a Red Bellied Woodpecker, and it does have a very strange tongue. As an adult, its tongue is longer, compared to beak size, than that of most birds. In juveniles, as with other birds, the base of the tongue extends around to the back of the head, but as they mature, the base grows up over the top of the head, adding more length. By the time they are full grown, their tongue can extend more than three times the length of the beak.

The tip of the tongue is sharp and barbed, and the tongue is very flexible. The woodpecker taps on the tree, and listens for the sound of insects in the wood that react to the vibration. This lets it know where to peck to reach the hole bored by the insects. It extends its tongue into that boring to skewer the insect, and drag it back to be eaten.

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