While watching swans the other day, I happened to spot this female mallard with what I thought was a meal in her mouth.
So, looking a little closer, the thing in her mouth seems to be her tongue.
I think she might have a broken lower jaw which is allowing her tongue to flap around. Bird beaks are fragile things, especially the lower one, which is composed of just two small bones knitted together with a few ligaments. And apparently, it is easily injured.
Small post-script on the previous day’s post on swans at Vadnais Reservoir. I photographed the same banded swan last year in the same place about this same time. 78Y may be a permanent resident of this place.