Bird Beaks – What do Birds Eat?


Hi, my name is Steve Bush. I take care of birds for a living. I’m going to show you a trick that you can
do at home where you can look at a bird and guess what kind of food it eats. Every bird has a beak, and every beak has
a job: to help the bird eat. Most bird beaks are specialized for the type
of food the bird eats. To the point where you can look at a bird
and guess what it eats! Let’s look at the most common shapes of beak. Straight-
Used for catching things. Really visible in the heron or the kingfisher. This shape gives a big area to catch food. Think of a pair of tongs. It doesn’t matter which part of the tongs
grab your food. As long as you’ve caught the food somewhere,
you can hold on. Big straight beaks are probably for fish. Small straight beaks are probably for insects. Hooked-
Used for tearing things. These beaks are on birds like eagles or hawks. This shape is for grabbing part of a dead
animal and tearing off a bite to eat. We use a curved, hooked tool to eat our food
as well- a fork! The shape works really well for this use. The hooked beak is used by predators and also
by scavengers. The hooked beak does the same job in both. Cone-
Used for opening seeds. These beaks are on sparrows and finches. This shape is for peeling the hard skin off
seeds. The short beak allows for lots of leverage. A long beak is like this. It’s hard to squeeze hard enough to crush
the food. A short beak is like this. It’s easy to crush the food. Mixed-
Used for a combination of the previous things. These beaks are on parrots and seagulls. Parrots are foragers that need to eat different
parts of plants. Their hook helps them tear apart fruit or
bark. Their cone helps them crush hard nuts open. Seagulls are also foragers that can eat different
foods. They can catch fish using their straight beak. They can also tear apart dead fish on the
beach. These are the major types of beak that cover
most types of birds, so now you have a new trick! You can look at any type of bird and predict
what it eats. Let’s try this! So, looking at the penguin’s beak, what do
you think it eats? The penguin is a hunting species and it eats
fish, helped by its straight beak. Now take a look at the skua. What do you think it eats? The skua is a hunting and foraging species,
so it has a straight beak to help it catch prey, and a hook to help tear it apart. In a different video, we’ll talk about the
more unusual shapes of beak that are for less common foods. Thanks for taking the time to learn about
birds today. You can follow me on Twitter for more animal
facts @BioBush.

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