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2012-01-28
What bird has the longest tongue relative to body size?


Wrynecks have the longest tongue. It is two-thirds of its body length excluding the tail. The Wrynecks - genus Jynx - are a small but distinctive group of small Old World Woodpeckers. They have large heads, long tongues which they use to extract their insect prey and have two toes pointing forward, and two backwards. Zygodactyl feet. Their diet is mainly made up of ants and occasionally insects, which they find in decaying wood or almost bare soil. There are two species, the Eurasian Wryneck and the Red-throated Wryneck.

The Eurasian Wryneck - Jynx torquilla - is small sparrow-sized birds, appearing greyish overall, with brown and buff mottling. They have a contrasting dark band running down from the back of the head onto the back. They feed almost exclusively on ants and unlike other woodpeckers, are seen mainly on the ground, and do not often climb up vertical trunks or branches.

 The Red-throated Wryneck - Jynx ruficollis – has populations scattered across sub-Saharan Africa, including one confined to South Africa and Swaziland. It is highly specialized, living only in grassland and feeding exclusively on ants and termites. This bird’s long tongue is capable of extending more than 60 mm past the tip of the bill and covered with a sticky mucus secretion from the salivary glands. This weapon is flicked out at amazing speed to gather beakfuls of ants.

These interesting birds can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures: -


Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.


 

 

 

 


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