We stick out our tongues to see how much it can stretch to lick an ice cream in front of us. Woodpeckers do the same when trying to catch insects. Just that some woodpeckers have tongues that are as long as their bodies!
The average human tongue is 3.9 inches long, which is a fraction of the length of our body. The Grey-Faced woodpecker has a tongue that is almost 7 inches long which is about 2.8 times the length of its beak and longer than its entire body. This species of woodpecker has a barbed tongue that acts like a spear to catch insects, when it sticks its tongue inside trees.
But where does it store its long tongue? The tongue splits into two and curls back into the back of its head, where it rejoins and inserts into its right nostril (as shown in the illustration). In spite of having a long tongue, the woodpecker does not have a vocal song. It makes a drumming sound on hollow trees or logs to communicate.
Box: A woodpecker has a layer of sticky saliva on its tongue to help it catch insects.