The shape of a bird’s beak is often determined by the type of food they eat. Curved beaks are tools that can help birds tear, chip, crack and dig to access different types of food. Whether they need to rip animal flesh, search behind tree bark for insects or dig in sediment to find crabs, many different species of birds benefit from this beak shape. In this article we will show you 15 different species of birds with curved beaks.
Birds with curved beaks
1. Bald Eagle
Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
The Bald Eagle is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of up to seven feet and a weight of up to thirteen pounds. It’s found throughout North America, including Canada, where it nests along the edges of lakes, rivers, and streams.
This eagle feeds primarily on small mammals, snakes, turtles, and even dead animals. Because the birds must pierce through thick coats of fur or scales on their prey, they have curved beaks that are strong enough to tear into the flesh of their prey. They also have keen vision, which allows them to spot potential prey from a long distance. Their feathers are also highly waterproof, so they don’t get wet when flying over water or during rainstorms.
Scientific name: Drepanis coccinea
The Iiwi is a honeycreeper native to the Hawaiian islands. These bright red birds live in forests at high elevations. Their long, pinkish-orange down-curved beak is specially shaped for dipping inside of tubular flowers to sip on nectar. Unfortunately these once common birds have become threatened by habitat loss, malaria-infected mosquitoes and plant pathogens that affect the trees the Iiwi depend on for food.
3. Thick-billed Parrot
Scientific Name: Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha
The Thick-billed Parrot is a large, mostly green bird found in Mexico’s rainforests. These birds can grow to be 15 inches long. Thick-billed Parrots are also intelligent and have been observed manipulating powerful predators such as falcons by entering trees in order to escape.
These parrots are very social and live in flocks of up to a thousand birds, and are frequently observed grooming one another. They have thick bills and curved beaks because they eat large seeds from trees, which are hard to crack open.
4. American Avocet
Scientific Name: Recurvirostra americana
These unique and elegant looking shorebirds breed inland (in wetlands) in the western U.S., then spend winters along the coast of California, the Gulf, southeastern United States, Caribbean and Mexico. Most birds with curved beaks have a downward curve. The avocet, however, has an interesting upward curve. To feed, they wade in shallow water, dip their bill underwater and sweep it side to side to catch invertebrates.
5. Barn owl
Scientific Name: Tyto alba
Barn owls can be found on almost every continent except Antarctica. These owls are about 20 inches long with a striking white, heart-shaped face. Barn owls eat small mammals such as rats and mice, as well as birds such as meadowlarks and starlings. Aside from helping these owls tear down their prey’s meat, their curved beaks are located well below their eyes and do not stick out far from the face. This facial structure that gives then a rather flat profile, which helps ensure unobstructed sight and sound collection through their facial disk for hunting.
6. Black vulture
Scientific Name: Coragyps atratus
The black vulture is a large vulture native to both North and South America. Vultures are scavengers, which means they eat meat from already dead animals. They soar high up looking for carcasses below, and can also use their sense of smell to locate food. Black vultures don’t have as keen a sense of smell as Turkey Vultures, and will often follow Turkey Vultures help them locate food.
These large vultures can rip meat off their prey with the help of their curved beaks. Black vultures are also opportunistic predators, meaning that when food is scarce, they’ll hunt for small animals such as rats, baby birds, and eggs.
7. LeConte’s Thrasher
Scientific name: Toxostoma lecontei
There are many species of thrashers, but not all have curved beaks. The LeConte’s Thrasher lives in sandy, open deserts in the southwest, including Death Valley, where many other birds wouldn’t be able to survive. Their pale sandy color helps them blend in with the dry environment. Their diet is insects and arthropods, and they get most of their water requirement from their food. They can use their curved beak to dig in the ground in search of food, as well as probe shrubs, and even push over rocks.
8. Brown Creeper
Scientific Name: Certhia americana
Brown Creepers are small birds that stand about 5.3 inches tall. They’re found in North America and are the only treecreepers located on the continent. Brown Creepers eat insects, spiders, scorpions, and other small invertebrates and live in deciduous forests. They spend most of their time “creeping” up and down tree trunks, where their brown wing feathers blend in perfectly.
These treecreepers have curved beaks that allow them to penetrate thick tree bark in search of larvae and other insects hidden within it. The curved beaks also allow them to handle prey such as caterpillars and grasshoppers with greater skill than other birds of comparable size.
9. Keel-billed Toucans
Scientific Name: Ramphastos sulfuratus
The keel-billed toucan is found in Central and South American rainforests, where it feeds on fruit, eggs, and insects. It’s the national bird of Belize and is a colorful, large bird with a distinctive curved beak.
In tropical and subtropical rainforests, they’re typically found in groups of up to 22 individuals. Keel-billed toucans have large and colorful beaks that are roughly one-third the size of their body. The majority of their beak is neon green, with an orange stripe on each side, a splash of bright blue on the lower mandible and a deep crimson red tip. These toucans are mostly black with yellow cheeks and throat, emphasizing the colors of their beaks.
10. Long-billed Curlew
Scientific Name: Numenius americanus
When it comes to impressive beaks, it’s hard not to mention the Long-billed Curlew. They are the largest shorebird in North America. While wading in shallow waters, they can use their long, curved beaks to dig through the sediment to find burrowing worms, shrimp and crabs. They also eat inland insects like grasshoppers, gathering together in groups and walking through fields to flush them out.
11. White Ibis
Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus
The White Ibis is a bird that lives in wetlands, swamps, and coastal areas from North America to Central America. They’re mostly white, with a black tip to their wings. These large birds survive in their natural habitat by hunting and foraging for food with their beaks. They extract insects from nests and from the mud with the help of their long, curved beaks. These birds also consume fish, shrimp, crabs, and snails. To look for food they drag their long curved beaks along the muddy / sandy bottom.
Due to their social nature, they frequently congregate in flocks of ten thousand or more birds, which helps to frighten away potential predators that could harm them.
12. Peregrine falcon
Scientific Name: Falco peregrinus
Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour in diving flight. They’re mostly found in coastal areas, and near cliffs, or even tall buildings. Peregrine falcons are distinguished by their dark gray back, streaks on the chest and abdomen, and their distinctive curved beak.
These falcons usually hunt for prey in the air, which is composed mostly of birds. They usually attack their prey from above, diving down and knocking them unconscious. These species will then use their curved beaks to kill the prey completely by cutting their spines.
13. Eurasian Hoopoe
Scientific name: Upupa epops
It’s hard to mistake the Hoopoe for any other bird. Their zebra-striped wings, cinnamon head with large crest and long down-curved beak make quite a picture. They can be found in Europe, African and Asia in orchards, farmland, parks and grassy habitats. Hoopoes are mostly ground feeders that eat insects, spiders and snails. Their long bill can help them probe beneath the surface to find food. Their strange name comes from their call, which is described as “hoo-poo-poo.”
Scientific Name: Melopsittacus undulatus
The budgerigar is a small parrot that’s popular as a pet. Its tiny curved beak allows it to crack open crack seeds and nuts. These cute parrots are native to Australia, primarily in semi-arid and sub-humid environments.
These birds are available in a variety of colors, including green, blue, white, and gray. Budgies eat grass seeds, fruits, and plants in the wild. They also frequently live in areas with abundant water sources because they enjoy drinking water and require at least 5.5% of their body weight daily.
Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus
Ospreys are large birds-of-prey that can live almost anywhere as long as there are shallow, fish-filled waters nearby. They have a curved beak that makes it easier for them to eat fish, which accounts for at least 99% of their diet.
The osprey’s curved beak helps it in grasping slippery prey such as fish, and it also has sharp claws on its feet for catching prey and carrying it back to the nest, where they eat the fish from the head to the tail. Ospreys build their nests in trees or on high platforms, such as the tops of buildings, and lay 1 to 4 eggs per season.
Louise is a writer that focuses mostly on wildlife, animals, and nature. She’s developed a growing interest in animal biology and classification.