Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bird Beaks 1

Bird beaks come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Why?  If you think about what each bird eats and how it goes about getting its food, it starts to make a lot of sense:  bird beaks are basically "tools" that help a bird get and eat its food.  Can you guess who these beaks belong to?  The first is from a bird we have in our Outdoor Aviary, but we frequently see these as wild birds on the pond outside our Museum as well.  Notice the very sharp, curved tip:
This next one is from a bird of prey:
This long pointy beak is from a wild bird we often see on the Museum grounds, usually near water:
And last, this beak is very odd looking, but efficient at catching fish:
If that first sharp beak reminded you of a fish hook, well, that's because it is a fish hook!  It belongs to a cormorant.  In this photo, the cormorant is eating chopped fish in the Outdoor Aviary:
Cormorants have a brilliant blue color inside their mouth--and also notice its beautiful blue eyes:
I've watched our cormorants manipulate objects, like this stick, with surprising dexterity:
The second beak belongs to one of our eagles--when I took this backlit profile photo, I noticed that you can see how razor-sharp the ends of the beak are.  Perfect for eating fish!
Most pictures of eagles show the head in profile, but I thought you'd also like to see the front an eagle's face to see how hooked the beak is.  Also, see the nostrils at the top of the beak?
The third beak belongs to a wild great blue heron.  As far as I can count, there are at least three wild great blue herons that live on our Museum grounds.  I've watched them patiently stalk their prey (fish, frogs, etc.) at the water's edge:
We have a great blue heron on exhibit in our Outdoor Aviary.  We have him because of his cross-bill deformity--he would not be able to feed himself properly in the wild:
Here's a top view of the cross-bill deformity.  (Also notice the white patch of feathers on his head--that means he's an adult.  The wild great blue heron above is a juvenile--no white patch top of the head.):
 Last beak belongs to a pelican--the bottom of his beak is basically like an elastic sack:
Here you see the pelican getting ready to catch a fish--our curatorial staff sometimes does pelican feeding demonstrations, much to the delight of our visitors:
That's all for now.  I'll do another "bird beaks" blog in the future.  As usual, feel free to send comments if you wish.  More off the beaten path in two weeks!
Cheers,
Lisa





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