Speaking of Tongues

Interesting Facts About a Bald Eagle’s Tongue

Reading Time: 2 minutes

People often wonder if Bald Eagles have tongues because we don’t see them when they’re using their huge, hooked beaks for ripping flesh from their prey.

The answer is yes, of course, they have tongues.

Aurora, one of Christine's Critters' bird ambassadors, shows there is a tongue behind that beautiful beak
Aurora, one of Christine’s Critters’ bird ambassadors, shows there is a tongue behind that beautiful beak

Bald Eagles Tongues are Fairly Simple

But their tongues are not used the way woodpecker’s use their tongues to get into tiny crevices in trees to grab bugs.

Or like a hummingbird or Purple Honeycreeper sticking their tongues our far enough to eat nectar.

And not like a Rainbow Lorikeet using its brush-like tongue to feed in flowers.

Or a Carolina Wren’s tongue helping them hold onto insects.

A raptor’s tongue is fairly simple, with small spikes or hairs to help them hold onto prey.

READ: BALD EAGLE AIR SHOW ON DISPLAY AT SHEPAUG DAM

Anatomy of a Bald Eagle’s Tongue

A Bald Eagle’s tongue is pinkish, relatively narrow, and it fits nicely between the sharp ridges of their beaks, and are quite flexible.

Eagles use their tongues to help them swallow like we do, but eagle’s tongues aren’t as long as ours, so they can’t stick them out.

An Eagle’s tongue is short, so they can’t easily bite them.

An eagle’s tongue is pinkish, relatively narrow, and it fits nicely between the sharp ridges of their beaks
An eagle’s tongue is pinkish, relatively narrow, and it fits nicely between the sharp ridges of their beaks

If you look carefully at an eagle’s tongue, they have two barbs, or rear-directed papillae, to help lift and pull food items to the back of their long mouths.

Eagles usually keep their mouths shut, except when they are nervous or hot and open their mouths to pant.

So next time when you’re lucky enough to see a beautiful Bald Eagle up close, be sure to check out their tongue: yet another marvel of nature.

To learn more about Bald Eagles, visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/overview.

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