5 Unique Beaks

May 18, 2015

The old adage "you are what you eat" takes on a new meaning when it comes to birds. As a group, they've adapted a wide variety of bills to fit their varied dietary habits. These are essential to their survival. Flamingos' beaks are deep to help filter water. Hummingbirds' are long and thin to prod flowers for nectar. For Bird Migration Month, we've highlighted some of the most impressive beaks in our parks.

1. African Spoonbill — Bronx Zoo

An excellent fisherman thanks to its long, flattened bill that widens at the end. The shape of the bill looks a bit like a large spoon (hence the name).

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

2. Keel-billed Toucan — Central Park Zoo

Toucans boast one of the most identifiable beaks around. In practice, it's good for many things, including reaching far-away fruit.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

3. Scarlet Macaw — Queens Zoo

These colorful birds hail from Central and South America. Their strong, curved beaks are used to crack nuts and pull seeds from shells.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

4. Bee Eater — Bronx Zoo

As the name suggests, these birds eat bees with their tweezer-like bills. They won't pass up other insects, either, like fruit flies and grasshoppers.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

5. Wreathed Hornbill — Prospect Park Zoo

The beaks on these birds are hard to ignore and part of the reason is the casque — the knob located on top of their bill.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

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