Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Fine Physique

I was flipping through recent photos on our new Nikon and was surprised to see that I've actually captured a hint of a pileated's tongue in one of the photos.

Considering that a pileated's tongue is so incredibly long that it actually coils up in the back of its head, you would think that it'd be more common to see their tongues.  Alas, their lightening quick flicks are far faster than my slow synapses!

Up close, a woodpecker's tongue looks like a nasty weapon which, if you were an ant, it would be.  Just take a look at the amazing woodpecker tongue photos Hilton Pond Center has on their site. They even have one of a woodpecker skull so you can see how the tongue wraps around the inside.

Pileateds, like all woodpeckers, are physically designed to withstand pounding into trees while searching for insects (in the pileated's case, preferably ants) and excavating nesting cavities (2' deep!). They have a specially built skull that cushions their brain, a barbed tongue, incredibly strong toes that can cling to nearly anything, and a long tail that they use as a balance point.

I've always been fascinated by these large woodpeckers, but getting to know their actual physique and how they're built to do what they do just makes them even more amazing.

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