Date: 4/7/18 7:35 am From: Bob Bethune <bobbethune...> Subject: [birders] Red-bellied woodpecker doing his best impression of a lizard
Two days ago I watched a male red-bellied woodpecker feeding on one of our seed feeders, taking a break from his usual focus on suet.
This particular feeder has a rather fine mesh, so he couldn't get his beak into it.
His solution was to fish seeds out with his amazingly long, bright red tongue, easily half again the length of his beak. As far as I could tell, he was getting the seeds to stick to his tongue rather than spearing them. He was most successful with the sunflower chips, but did succeed in picking up some larger seeds as well. it must have been working out OK for him, because he kept at it quite a while.
Watching him made me think of a lizard or frog catching insects rather than a bird. The length and dexterity of that tongue was amazing. it was easy to see why they're so good at feeding off insect cavities and galleries in trees.