Our feathered friends may not have any teeth but they do have very interesting beaks (also known as bills) that come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours. There are also numerous uses for their beaks – gather food, preen feathers, build nests, impress potential mates and even regulate body temperature. So here’s a look at some of the most fascinating bills in the avian world and what they’re used for!
Toucans use their over-sized bills to reach for fruit on branches that are too thin to hold its weight and to pick insects, young lizards and eggs from tree holes and crevices. During courtship, the male and female use their bills to toss berries at each other!
Did you know: The bill of a toucan can be four times the size of its head! It may seem huge but it’s actually lightweight. Check them out for yourself at our Hornbill & Toucans exhibit!
Pelicans have some of the longest beaks in the avian world, with sizes approaching half a metre in length. Acting like a net, their pouch-like beaks can hold up to 13 litres of water. They use their beaks to scoop up fishes and drain the water before swallowing their catch! Watch the different fishing techniques utilised by these master fishers at one of our feeding sessions at the underwater viewing gallery at 2pm daily.
Did you know: During courtship displays, pelicans clap their bill and flap their pouch repeatedly.
The scarlet ibis is a bird that’s hard to miss thanks to its strikingly bright colour! It also has a long, curved beak that’s perfect for probing the mudflats, shallow water and grasses in search for food.
Did you know: The scarlet ibis gets its bright pink colour from the food it eats!
When we talk about hooked beaks, birds of prey immediately come to mind. All birds of prey have strong, curved beaks with sharp edges. The curved tips and sharp cutting edges help them to tear apart the flesh into smaller chunks. Take a walk down a magnificent street of feathered kings at the Birds of Prey exhibit where hawks, eagles and vultures live side by side in towering enclosures.
Did you know: The brahminy kite is known for being a scavenger but it also hunts for live prey such as small reptiles and fish!
Unlike most birds, the flamingo uses its sieve-like beak to filter its food, in a manner that is similar to whales! With its head upside down, the flamingo uses its powerful tongue to draw water containing algae and crustaceans into its mouth. The comb-like lamellae along the sides of its beak then sieves out food particles and excess water is expelled!
Spot the various types of beaks on your next visit to our sanctuary of feathered friends!