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Variations in Bill Morphology

  • Flamingos use a series of projections, or lamellae, to filter tiny food items from debris in the water.
  • Swifts are aerial insectivores & use their wide gape to help capture flying insects.
  • Eagles (and hawks) are diurnal raptors & use their hook-like bills to tear apart large prey.
  • Shovelers use their spatula-shaped bills to filter food from mud & water.
  • Crossbills use their ‘crossed-bill’ to extract seeds from pine cones.
  • Herons use their bills to capture small fish and amphibians.
  • Avocets sweep their long up-curved bills from side-to-side through the water to capture small invertebrates (or use it like a forceps to pick up prey).
  • Woodpeckers use their chisel-like bills to chop away wood & expose insects and insect larvae.
  • Wrens use their thin, probing bill to capture small insects.
  • Curlews use their long bill to probe mudflats for small invertebrates.
  • Hawfinches are seed-eaters & use their bills to crack open large, hard seeds.
  • Macaws use their strong hook-like bills to feed on nuts.
  • Mallards & other waterfowl use their bills to filter small invertebrates from mud and water.
  • Skimmers use their elongated lower mandible to skim the surface of the water & capture small fish and invertebrates.