Geen woodpeckers often forage on lawns in search of their favourite food. As soil temperatures rise, activity in ant colonies steps up a gear. Most nests last many years, and this makes them a reliable food source-one that green woodpeckers raid mercilessly.
After the bird has penetrated a nest with its bill, it unfurls its sticky, worm like tongue to slurp up ants by the hundred. The defensive squirts of formic acid deployed by some ant species appear to be a mild irritant to the woodpecker, but also benefit it by ridding its feathers and skin of parasites. If you see a green woodie feeding, check out the area after it has gone and you might find grey-sheathed droppings packed with hundreds of ant exoskeletons.