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How Does a Woodpecker Eat?

How Does a Woodpecker Eat?

Have you ever seen a woodpecker foraging on a tree and think “Ouch!  That must hurt the woodpecker!”.

Woodpeckers hammer into trees to search for food (insects and sap) and to excavate a cavity for nesting! But…how do they reach deep into these cavities and crevices to reach their food?

Pileated Woodpecker

Well… they have very special adaptations for this! An adaptation is how an animal has developed over time to gain special traits or features that it needs to survive.

One of these adaptations is a woodpeckers tongue!  Woodpeckers have incredibly long tongues in order to reach deep into the holes that they dig into tree trunks. Sticky saliva on their tongue then captures insects and is retracted back into their mouth!  With some species of woodpecker these tongues also reach in to grab sap!

As a human, our tongues are about the same length as our mouth. Woodpeckers have tongues several times longer than their bills!  WOAH!  So where do they keep it?

Woodpeckers have adapted to be able to store their long tongue around the back of their skull where it will then connect to either their right nostril or near their eyeball. How cool is that?

Can you name all the woodpeckers that we have here in Georgian Bay? Take a photo of one and send it in to us, we’d love to see your photos!

Three cheers for tall trees and honey bees! 

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