Most of the fields in my survey area have been cut and plowed (which has really wrecked my bathroom plans). At one spot a female downy woodpecker has been systematically work the corn stubble.
She must have been getting something out of there, she worked the stubble piece by piece the two days I was there. She wouldn’t stay if she wasn’t getting a good food benefit from it. She would peck open the cracks to make them larger and stick her tongue inside.
Here’s a shot where you can get an idea of how long a woodpecker’s tongue is (for more on woodpecker tongues click here). She actually had it wedged in the stalk but only for a few seconds. And then she continued on to the next stalk.
It was interesting to see a bird finding benefit in the stubble. I also wonder if there was some bug that moved in to the stalk after harvest or if there was some bug in there and the farmer had a low yield to his crop.