Friday, October 23, 2015

Beak or Bill?

Beak or bill?  This is a question I have asked myself a number of times.  It is something that a lot of people use interchangeably.  However, there is a difference between the two. 

Beak or Bill?  They come in many different shapes and sizes (photos: Gay Schroer)

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a beak is a bird's horny projecting jaws, or other animal such as a turtle or a squid.  A bill is the beak of a bird when it is slender, flattened, weak (doesn't hurt when it bites you), or belongs to a web footed bird or a bird of the pigeon family. 

 In other words, a bill is a type of beak, but not all beaks are also bills.   This is like all macaws are parrots, but not all parrots are macaws. 

Osiris the Egyptian Vulture (photo: Mike Cerutti)

Beaks and bills can come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.  To me, the most impressive beak is that of a raptor--although, not all raptor beaks are the same.  
Some beaks can be longer and narrower, like on Osiris, our Egyptian Vulture. 

Reese the Great Horned Owl (photo: Mike Cerutti

Other raptor beaks can be short and stout like on Reese, our Great Horned Owl.  This is one of the things I love about raptor beaks, the variety in which they come. 

Nemo, an African Grey Parrot (photo: Mike Cerutti)

Parrot beaks are hooked like raptor beaks, but have a rasping edge on the inside of the top beak for filing away the shells of nuts that are too tough to crack open. 

A Northern Cardinal (photo: Carmen Volante)

Many songbirds, like Cardinals, have short stout beaks for breaking seeds open and killing insects. 

When you visit the World Bird Sanctuary, you will see a large variety of beaks and bills on our birds and even our turtles!

Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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