OF these only four kinds have been noticed in Great Britain. Their characters are striking, and their manners singular. The bill is large, strong, and fitted for its employment: the end of it is sharp and formed like a wedge, with which it pierces the bark of trees, and bores through the wood in which its food is lodged. Its neck is short and thick, and furnished with powerful muscles, which enable it to strike with such force as to be heard at a considerable distance: the noise thus occasioned is not by vibration round a hole, as some authors assert, but by a succession of strokes repeated with surprising rapidity, according to one of the suggestions of the accurate Ray. Its tongue is long and taper, and capable of great elongation,* at the end of it there is in most of the species, a hard horny substance curving slightly downwards, which penetrates into the crevices of trees, and extracts the insects and their eggs which are lodged there; the tail consists of ten stiff, sharp-pointed feathers, rough on the under sides, and bent inwards, by which it supports itself on the trunks of trees while in search of food; for this purpose its feet are short and thick, and its toes, which are placed two forward and two backward, are armed with strong hooked claws, by which it clings firmly, and creeps up and down in all directions.
The tip of the tongue in this genus, is well known to be long and barbed: another peculiarity of structure connected with it, does not appear to have been noticed by naturalists:* in the back part of the palate is a longitudinal groove, which tapers to a point outwards, and is fringed with stiff hairs pointing towards the throat, with which it easily and speedily detached its food from the barbs of the tongue.
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