10 Most Beautiful Birds having Unique Beaks
Birds with Unique Beaks
Birds attract human beings by their colours,size and shape of beaks. No doubt, the primary function of the beaks of birds is to feed them, but the nature has shaped them the way these birds eat. That is why the beak (or bill) is one of the important characteristics for identifying birds.
Beaks also help birds in fighting for their survival, finding food and killing their prey, courtship and even feeding their young ones.
Variations in the sizes, colours and shapes in beaks have prompted humans to study more about birds. Presented in this Hub are 10 beautiful birds with unique beaks. Many of them are really colourful with majestic looks. I hope you will stay with me to appreciate their beauty.
#1. Mallard or Wild Duck - Female and Male
Male and female Mallards or Wild Ducks are so distinct that one cannot miss them. Known for wide and flat beaks, they are dabbling ducks. Male ducks have bottle-green head, grey flanks and a white collar. But the female ducks have brown speckled plumage. Males have bright yellow beaks tipped with black and the females have orange-and-brown beaks.
They are very familiar in the temperate and sub-tropical Americas, Europe, Asia and North Africa and found in parks and ponds. They prefer wetlands for eating water plants and small animals. They are gregarious by nature. It is a pleasure to see a pair of mallards, where male and female can be identified easily.
The Darters are also called snake-birds because of the peculiar shape of their necks which are long and thin and tails which are long and rounded. Their beaks are sharp and pointed. Many a times these waterbirds are found swimming and only snake like necks are visible above water. Their legs are short and the feet are webbed.
Males have black and dark brown plumage, but the females have paler plumage, which look majestic on slender body. They are mainly tropical or subtropical and known for building nests on trees standing in water. They are capable of covering long distances.
#3. Toco Toucan
The Toco Toucan is known for its extraordinary long beak, which is about one third of the total body length and is remarkably coloured also. Found in large parts of central and eastern parts of South America, it is the largest in the toucan family, but contrary to its size the beak is not so heavy. The beak is yellow-orange to reddish-orange in the lower part and a large spot on the tip.
Fruit is the main source of food and the beaks helps to peel fruit. Since the tongue of the toucan is about the same length, catching frogs, reptiles and insects is facilitated.
#4. King Vulture
The King Vulture is a very large vulture mostly covered with white plumage. It is found in Central and South America to Northern Argentina. Its beak is not only powerful but has a hooked tip and cutting edges. The colour of the beak is orange and black with markedly visible irregular golden crest above it. There are no feathers on the head and neck, but they are quite colourful, having red, purple and orange combinations.
Solitary by nature, the King Vulture eats carrion or dead animal matter, locates food by vision and smell and can live over 40 years. Not in danger. but has declining population because of habitat loss.
#5. Great White Pelican
The Great White Pelican is a huge and heavy bird with a large beak which is bright yellow and blue and a red tip. The edges of the beak are pink and there is a yellowish pouch below. Because of its huge size, the wingspan can measure between 226 to 360 cms.
It has both migratory and sedentary populations. The migratory birds are scattered in Eurasia covering the eastern Mediterranean to Vietnam. Sedentary population can be seen all the year round in Africa. They live in large colonies in warm, shallow fresh waters, lagoons and deltas. Their preferred diet is fish for which they fly long distances and they are also known for a rare quality of cooperative feeding. In Africa they are found in alkaline lakes. They live very long lives in captivity.
#6. Rufous Hornbill
Known for quite majestic looks in view of the size, colour and shape of their beaks, the Rofous Hornbills are large species endemic to the Philippines. They are also called Philippines Hornbills where they are found in the 11 islands. Sadly, they are succumbing to pressure from hunters and are now also in decline due to shrinking availability of habitat.
They are also popular as 'Farmers of the Forests' in view of their spreading the seeds of the fruit they eat. Another interesting behaviour is the noontime call for which they are called 'the clock on the mountains'. Interestingly, the males seal their females in the holes of the trees as they go out to collect feeding material for them and their chicks.
Enjoy the Pair
7. Jabiru or Black-Necked Stork
Called Jabiru in Australia, the Black-necked Stork has a heavy black beak with an upper edge going slightly concave. It is a large bird with striking long coral-red legs. It is easier to distinguish between males and females from their eyes, males have dark, but females have yellow iris. Body plumage is black and white and the neck is dark green and purple.
This species resides across South and Southeast Asia and is the only stork found in coastal and nearing areas in the northern and the eastern Australia. They are non-social and mostly found in pairs or singly. They feed on fish, small crustaceans, reptiles and amphibians. They are also known for preying on eggs of turtles. Their water drinking is marked by bending down with open beak, scooping of water with forward motion and raising the beak to swallow water.
The Spoonbills are white long-legged water birds with peculiar beaks. Their beaks are long, thick, flat and spatulate with dark grey or black and yellow shades. While feeding themselves in shallow water they use their bills for sideways sweep quite elegantly. They eat small fish and aquatic insects.
There are six species of spoonbills and the most widespread is Eurasian species. They believe living in flocks on the ground where they can walk and run. Weaving nests is a joint venture with males supplying the material and females weaving them into a large and shallow bowl.
Watch Spoonbills in Action
#9. Hyacinth Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw is a brilliantly colourful bird with large, curved and powerful beak which, in fact, can crack nuts and seeds. It can also crack coconuts. Bluish in colour with dark blue wings, it has a yellow ring on its eyes. It is quite popular in South America. Longer than any other species of parrots, it is now an endangered species due to habitat loss, though their average life span in the wild is 60 years.
#10. Black Skimmer
Apart from the fact that the basal part of the beak of the Black Skimmer is bright red and the black combination with the rest of it looks quite charming, the peculiarity of the beak is the unusual larger lower part of it. Another unique feature is the structure of the eye which has vertical pupil and dark brown iris. Also the voice is very unusual - dog-like bark.
The beak is very thin and true to its name this bird flies so low and drags the lower part of its beak through the water in search of small fish. The fish catching activity is more actively pursued during low light at dusk and dawn or in the night by this colonial seabird.