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Friday, January 6, 2012

Double-scratching is a winter eating technique

Fox Sparrow
When there is leaf litter on the ground, birds that can (like sparrows, towhees, juncos and most blackbirds) will still search for food successfully. They do it by double-scratching the leaf litter, usually  uncovering tiny insects, eggs or forgotten seed.

Watch closely because it happens fast: The bird hops forward a tiny bit with both legs, then hops backward a little. He may have uncovered food!

Of course, if all the leaf litter has been removed ("the manicured lawn") forget about birds.

Downy Woodpecker

Woodpeckers have many tiny barbs on the end of his (or her) long, narrow tongue. So the tongue has sort of a bottle-brush shape. When the bird sticks his tongue into a suet cake, the barbs catch on the suet and, when bringing the tongue back, break off tiny pieces of it. Several of north Texas' birds peck, but only woodpeckers are adapted like this.

1 comment:

  1. I watch the towhees and the juncos scratching away, and now I know why. Thanks for posting.