Last Updated on October 20, 2021 by Guillermina
Been searching for an article about a shore bird with curved beak to find out more about the species? If yes, then this article is for you.
As any ornithologist will testify, the avian world is chockful of marvels of all sorts. From the color of their feathers to their foraging habits, there are tons of intriguing evolutionary reasons for their being as they are. No two birds are quite the same, and researchers can only hope to unravel half the mysteries of this hidden world. For now, we will limit our focus to shore birds. Join us to discover shore bird identification, behavior, feeding practices, and more!
Shore Birds And Curve Beaks – Why Do Bills Matter?
The formation of a bird’s beak is of great interest to researchers. It has a big role in its feeding habits and can also help birdwatchers set it apart from similar-looking subspecies. Not every shore bird with curved beak has the same foraging inclinations. The length and direction of the curve are built to accommodate various functions in hunting and fending for itself in its natural environment.
Among the characteristics of fish-eating birds are their peculiar beaks. Beach birds with long beaks use them to scoop up aquatic prey. Flamingoes are among filter feeders with long, curved beaks. Filter feeder is a classification of creatures that ingest microorganisms and nutrients while straining out the water. Flamingoes use their elongated necks to set their heads upside down in the water. They gather up the algae and small crustaceans like brine shrimp and filter out the water through their curved bill.
So you see, beaks, curved or otherwise, help birdies immensely. In fact, beaks are essential to a bird’s survival.
Other Notable Shore Birds With Curved Beaks
We’ve talked about Flamingoes, but are there any other beach birds you should know about? Of course, there are! Here are some other notable species.
Pelicans have long beaks with a large sac hanging underneath, called the gular pouch. With a capacity for around three gallons of water, this pouch is huge and distensible. Though usually folded up, it expands when the Pelican dives to catch its prey.
The gular pouch stores small fish inside, with the upper mandible acting as a cap, and lands to drain the water and swallow the food. Thanks to their massive bills, pelicans can eat bigger prey than just fish. They have been observed to eat amphibians, turtles, and small birds like pigeons.
No discussion of beach birds is complete without mentioning seagulls. These birds possess long yellow beaks with hooked tips, and they’re intrinsically connected to the sea. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that seagulls have become an iconic part of the shore.
This bird species will generally flock to the beaches to hunt. A seagull feature distinct from any other shore bird with curved beak is a red spot on their bills. The spot exists due to the carotenoids gleaned from their meals and is the target of baby gulls who peck at it when hungry.
This quirky act informs the parent that it is time to regurgitate their meal for the broodling. Seagulls are also quite hardy and adaptable. They prefer eating an omnivorous diet of fish, grain, berries, and even dead marine animals that wash ashore.
The sharp edge of their bill allows the seagull to tear off flesh from its prey – including rodents and even other members of its own family. In difficult times, a seagull can switch between marine and terrestrial feed. It can also drink seawater and discharge the salt from its glands.
A marbled godwit is a large shore bird with curved bill and spindly legs. Its needlelike bill is two-toned, slightly curves upwards, and can poke through sand and mudflats as it scouts the coastal area for worms. The tip of its bill is black, and the remaining part is orange during breeding season and pink otherwise.
Marbled Godwits are different from the typical shore bird with curved beak as they switch to a herbivorous diet during the migratory months. During this time, the species’ sharp bills operate as gardening scissors to snip off plant tubers.
A long-billed curlew is aptly named for its very long and slim sword-like beak that curves downwards. The formation of the species’ beak is very useful for procuring elusive prey buried deep under the mud and sand. Crabs, shrimps, and insects make up its diet. The peculiar bent to its beak has earned it the name ‘sickle bird.’
Whimbrels are other waders that are sometimes mistaken for curlews. They are recognizable due to their striped heads and for having somewhat smaller bodies and beaks than curlews. Conversely, the bend of its beak is also distinct from a curlew’s. The Whimbrel’s bill effectively explores through the soft sand and can swallow the meal whole, even prey as big as a crab.
A Curlew Sandpiper has a russet red body and a slim bill that tilts downwards. The bird wades through marshy areas and shallow lagoons with its sturdy legs. It uses its beak to peck at shrimps, mollusks, and flies. Sandpipers can traverse through deeper water in comparison to its relative, the Dunlin.
A Dunlin is stockier than other shorebirds and is not particularly large. It prefers wetlands and can wade through shallow water as it seeks its food which comprises beetles, clams, and spiders. It is an omnivore and opts for plant matter as well as small fish during the breeding season.
Pied Avocets are elegant waders with a graceful black and white plumage, long bluish legs, and a thin upturned bill. The species’ bill is quite helpful in discerning where the meal is hiding beneath the deep layers of sand and mud. It helps the bird by burrowing deep and pulling out crabs, worms, and even fish out of shallow water. For some strange reason, the females have shorter and curvier beaks than the males. Being carnivores, they hunt in the water as well as on the shore.
Bird beaks are of no small significance in shaping avian habits. They are uniquely shaped to accommodate the personal needs of each species. In addition, bird beaks are also accessories to heighten a bird species’ keen senses when foraging. Many birds use their beaks to build their nests, groom themselves and participate in mating rituals.
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