A bird’s beak and mouth say a lot about the bird without uttering a single tweet. Can you match each bird here with the description of its beak or bill? Answers are below.

NORTHERN CARDINAL

HOODED MERGANSER

NORTHERN SHOVELER

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER

RED CROSSBILL

RED-TAILED HAWK

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD

 

1. This bird’s bill opens just barely a third of an inch at its tip. Inside is a long tongue with a brushy tip that takes up nectar at a rate of 13 times per second.

2. This bird’s upper beak contains a triangle-shaped “tooth” called tomila that allows the bird to quickly kill its prey by cutting its spinal cord. If the prey is too large to be swallowed whole, this bird will hold it down with its talons, then use its hooked, sharp beak to rip its prey into swallow-size pieces.

3. This bird’s beak is a multipurpose tool. It uses its beak to “drum” against hollow trees or metal roofs and gutters to attract and communicate with potential mates. Once they have found each other, both birds use their beaks to dig out a nest in a tree trunk. They will also drill several holes near the nest site to stake their territory. To feed their nestlings (as well as themselves) these birds drill into trees to extract insects to eat.

4. The saw-like edges of this bird’s narrow beak help it capture and hold onto the fish, amphibians and crustaceans that it eats.

5. This bird has a very large bill with a fringe-like structure along the edge. Plus, its tongue has fringe-like features on each side. The large bill is used to skim the surface of shallow water or mud. The fringes help to strain out the tiny organisms and seeds that the bird eats.

6. This bird is named after its unique beak. The tips of its upper and lower beak do not line up — they are crossed. This allows the bird to pry apart pinecones. The bird’s strong tongue then extracts the seeds in the cone. The beak does not get in the way when the bird eats its other seeds, fruit or even insects.

7. This bird’s short, thick cone-shaped beak is designed to help it crack open seeds and nuts. The bird’s sharp, lower beak fits into grooves in the upper beak. It uses its tongue to move seeds into these grooves, so when the bird chomps down, the lower beak easily crushes the seed.

 

Answers

1. Ruby-throated hummingbird; 2. Red-tailed hawk; 3. Red-bellied woodpecker; 4. Hooded merganser; 5. Northern shoveler; 6. Red crossbill; 7. Northern cardinal;  Photo - Red crossbill