The tongue-beak dexterity of this female Northern Cardinal is quite impressive. Birds that crack open seeds and nuts have a very well developed tongue. I know this from having parrots as pets. A parrot’s tongue is a powerful muscle. It feels more like a thumb – dry, dense and agile.
But, without pliable lips, it’s not a perfect system. Look closely. This beautiful bird cracks the shell of a sunflower seed, but then she loses the prize inside.
I guess you can’t win them all. Maybe this is why so many little birds spend their time on the ground under a feeder!