Banded Woodpecker foraging for ants

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WoodpeckerBd-ants nest [LokePengFai] 2

Loke Peng Fai’s images of the Banded Woodpecker (Chrysophlegma miniaceus) show it clinging onto the edge of a palm leaflet to forage for ants. The ants’ nest is around that part of the leaflet that is brown, with the edge folded back (above). Ants can be seen scrambling all over the leaflet.

WoodpeckerBd-ants nest [LokePengFai] 1

In the above image, note that the woodpecker’s bill is slightly gaped and the tongue is inserted into the nest. The tongue of a woodpecker is an important tool in its quest for food. It is long, barbed and sticky, allowing it to probe among litter and into crevices and tunnels to lick up ants and termites. In this case the tongue is probing inside the ants’ nest. The sticky tongue will trap the ants and bring them into the mouth for consumption.

The tip of the tongue has a few backward-pointing barbs that come in useful in retrieving larvae residing inside tunnels in rotting wood. The tongue can be protruded and retracted with ease.

Woodpeckers feed mainly on insects and their larvae, besides plant products like fruits, tree sap and even flower nectar.

Loke Peng Fai
Singapore
31st July 2016

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behavior through photography and videography to a wider audience.

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