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Home Adaptations Beaks Picking

Nighthawk – Click on image to enlarge

Some birds are picky eaters. They use their specialized beaks to pick their food out of the air, off the ground, or even from under tree bark.

Swallows, swifts, flycatchers, nighthawks, and whip-poor-wills have a taste for fast food. They like to eat on the fly, using their short beaks and wide, gaping mouths to capture insects in flight.

Some of these birds also have bristles (specialized feathers) around their mouths. The bristles work together like a net to help the bird catch insects.

These and other birds also have small bumps located on the roof of the mouth. These bumps point backwards and help the bird hang onto food and work it down its throat.

Not all birds eat their insects on the go. Warblers, vireos, kinglets, and gnatcatchers feast on bugs but don't take wing to catch them.

These birds have short, slender, tweezer-like beaks that enable them to grab insects out of the air, pick insects and spiders off leaves, or probe between the crevices of tree bark to find their multi-legged meals.

Quail and pheasants also have short, pointed beaks, which they use for eating insects and seeds off the ground.


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