A bird’s bill is an incredible multi-tool — good for preening feathers, building a nest, self-defense, scratching, displaying, building a nest, and egg-turning. And a bill must be the right size and shape for the bird’s diet, whether that’s probing for worms, cracking open seeds, or tear apart prey.
Beaks and Bills
Adapted from a script by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Waves and Great Blue Heron]
A bird’s bill is perhaps one of nature’s most incredible multi-tools — good for preening feathers, self-defense, scratching, displaying, building a nest, and turning eggs. The bill of each bird species is perfectly adapted to meet the needs of that species... whether it’s probing for worms, cracking open seeds, or tearing into fresh meat. And a bird’s bill must do things that other animals accomplish with paws or other appendages.
[Great Blue Heron]
In a marsh or wet meadow, you might see a Great Blue Heron impale a fish with its massive spearhead of a bill.
Or perhaps you’ll spot a Mallard using its spatula-like bill to sift tiny animals and plants out of the water.
[Wilson’s Snipe call]
The Wilson’s Snipe uses its long, slender bill to probe the dirt for earthworms, while a Peregrine Falcon uses its sharp hooked beak to tear apart its prey.
[Peregrine Falcon call kee keee keee keee]
Call it a beak or call it a bill, for each and every bird, it tells a story. Next time you go birding, see what a bird’s beak can tell you.
[Downy Woodpecker drilling]
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Downy Woodpecker drilling recorded by G.A. Keller; Great Blue Heron by W.H. Gunn. Mallards by A.A. Allen; and Wilson’s Snipe by R.S. Little. Peregrine Falcon ML136378 recorded by M Anderson. Ambient shoreline recorded by C. Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Michael Stein
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote December 2011 / 2019 / November 2022
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