About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why Do Birds Have Different Bills?

The bird's bill is a remarkably useful instrument that comes in all shapes and sizes. The bill shows various adaptations for methods of feeding.

Birds with all-purpose bills have general sort of diet using a bill that can cut, crush, rip, and open just about anything.

Some other examples are short thin bills for insect eaters, short thick bills for seed eaters, long thin bills can be for probing flowers for nectar or probing soft mud for worms and shellfish, strong hooked bills for tearing meat.
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The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco), the largest member of the toucan family, possesses the largest beak relative to body size of all birds. The toucans use this exaggerated feature to attract mates and pick fruit from the thin ends of branches that can not support the birds weight. A recent study also found the bill can help the bird keep its temperature under control.

Flamingos are filter feeders, and have many complex rows of horny plates that line their bills to strain food items from the water.

Of course, gathering food is not the only use for the bird's bills. Birds use their bills in fighting and in defense of their territory, gathering nesting materials, building nests, grooming feathers, attracting mates, scaring predators, and other important rolls.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Thanks so much for this post and the photo collage! Found it a little too late for this year, but I will bookmark it to use next year when we are studying birds in biology! Thanks again!