Usually when one thinks of a bird with a large beak, one thinks first and foremost of the pelican. That would most likely have been true of the Tennessee poet, humorist, ornithologist and natural farmer Dixon Lanier (Abernathy) Merritt (1879-1972), who penned the following fairly well known limerick:
A curious bird is the pelican;
His beak can hold more than his belican.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week,
Though I’m damned if I know how the helican!
(I say ‘fairly well known’, because Mr. Merritt’s limerick is almost always improperly quoted — as it probably is above — and is also often mistakenly attributed to that other better-known humorist poet, Ogden Nash.)
While it is true that pelicans have sizable beaks, usually that beak or bill reaches no more than about half the bird’s body length. In fact, what we mistake for the bird’s seemingly exceedingly large beak volume is due primarily to the expandable skinned pouch appended to the bottom bill, and not to the bill or beak itself.
If we travel to the tropics, we might encounter one or more of the colorful toucan species. Toucans grow bills that routinely meet or exceed half their full-body length, and for most species that beak will also be broad and multi-colored, giving it an even larger appearance in relation to the typically dark and stubby toucan body. So, when one considers beak size in relation to body size, the toucan is also a respectable competitor.
Still other candidates for nature’s largest bill or beak are the various species of hornbill. These tropical and subtropical birds of Asia and Africa typically have long downward-curved bills, sometimes with another counterpointing ‘casque’ (or knobby, helmet-shaped or upward-swooping bill extension) attached to the upper mandible. The beaks of hornbills are large and weighty enough that they have been accompanied by the evolutionary advantages of several fused neck vertebrae and substantial neck muscles. Some species of the bird will use their bills and ivory- or bone-filled casques as battering rams and weapons in aerial jousting and mating battles. But, as with pelicans and toucans, the beaks or bills of the hornbill — even adding in all the dimension and weight of casques and helmets and such — never get much beyond half of the bird’s total length or weight.
Here, however, we see the champion of the ‘world’s largest beak’ contest: The All Beak. Were one to measure the All Beak, one would find a beak length of 31 cm, and a body length of just over 32 cm. If one should then weigh the All Beak — even after a full meal — one would obtain a body weight of perhaps 118 grams, but a beak weight of fully 107 grams. (The eggs of the All Beak, usually laid in clutches of 3 to 19, are surprisingly small, weighing in at just a gram or two, with a diameter no greater than 1.2 cm.)
Like the toucan and various hornbill species, the All Beak carries a richly colored beak, one that oddly seems to follow the fashion styles of the day. This particular specimen is sporting the minimalistic white with black flecks of the ‘Yoko Ono’ bill style.
- Crocker Park, Westlake, Ohio
Crocker Park, Westlake, OhioCrocker Park Boulevard, Westlake, Ohio Crocker Park Blvd, Westlake, OH 44145, USA An impressive lifestyle center with high-end shops, restaurants, bars, offices and apartments. Opened in 2004, Crocker Park in Westlake,...
- Designing Parking Lots
With virtual seas of asphalt seeming to stretch from horizon to horizon, some would say we have sacrificed far too much of our world to the automobile. But the effective design of parking lots is essential to the proper functioning of 21st Century...
- Hexagonal Hitler
This angry and angular Austrian autocrat had six sides all of them bad! No wonder nobody on his borders could tolerate him! As he rose to power, this brown-suited shouter indulged his...
- Cleveland's Justice Center
Cleveland's Justice CenterOntario Street & Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio Lakeside Ave E & Ontario St, Cleveland, OH 44113, USA The City of Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Justice Center is a substantial development in neo-Brutalist...
- Smudgekin is Pumped!
Smudgekin is Pumped! And can you really blame the squat little carbolyx-adreno-slug? His alma mater just made it into the Final 131,072 of the 2011 Hoops Tournament of the NIAA (National Intergalactic Athletic...
- Double Glass Walls in Architecture
Blue reflective glass, horizontally banded. by rlz We’ve all heard how important it is to use double-glazed or even triple-glazed windows in our homes and offices to reduce energy demand and improve interior comfort. But how many of us have...
- Nautica Pavilion, Cleveland, Ohio
Nautica Pavilion, Cleveland, Ohio Situated below the Cleveland skyline, on the western bank of the Cuyahoga River, the Nautica Pavilion offers a unique and enjoyable summer entertainment venue. The Nautica Pavilion was developed as a component of...
- Leo 1
Of course they do! What exactly does this fine fuzzy feline expect? This cat scans wider than normal due to these gaudy striated blotches! Heres a tip for our self-conscious pet: the next time you...
- Devon Rex Cats
Classic Devon Rex Characteristics by rlz If you happen to be looking for a friendly, affectionate, intelligent, good-tempered and relatively maintenance free cat for a pet, you can't do much better than a Devon Rex. Pictured above is Miracle, a...
- Create an Architectural Rendering
Come create this rendering along with me! Ever imagined yourself creating one of those 'artist's conceptions' of a new building, landmark or monument? Well, creating an architectural rendering may not be as difficult as you've imagined. Follow...
- Winthrop House, Harvard University
Courtyard of Gore Hall, Winthrop House, Harvard University Formally known as John Winthrop House, this pair of five-story brick colonial-style structures constitutes one of Harvard University’s twelve undergraduate residences. With school-term...
- Cape Codpiece
Wearing the Cape Codpiece, a form of attire that he considers both attractively authentic and haberdasherily historic, Medieval re-enactor Cadfaul Carolingian poses before his true Cape Cod...
- Smiley (with the Feathery Eyelashes)
To all our viewers, welcome back to our program! We appreciate your partaking of the preceding brief commercial interlude, and are grateful for any support you might show...
More by this Author
Sample this intriguing glimpse into the fantastic spiritualism and psycho-pathology of urban Thai culture.
Improve your blogging with these simple instructions.
Make uniform patterns and repetitions readily and surprisingly easily.