Bill morphology photos

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Ground-probers
Bill longer than typical insectivore, decurved, sharply pointed. Ground-probers typically
have plain backs that match substrate.
Furnariidae: Upucerthia,
Ochetorhynchus: 8 species
Mimidae: Toxostoma: 7 species
Alaudidae: Alaemon: 2 species
Upupidae: 1 species
Two orders, at least 4 families; at least 18 species
Bark-probers
Like Ground-probers, but back typically with some streaks. Toes and
tail often show climbing adaptations, as in these specialized climbers.
Certhiidae: 8 species
Dendrocolaptidae: woodcreepers ;ca. 50 species
Bark-probers
Like Ground-probers, but back typically with some streaks. This set of
birds are not as specialized for climbing as the Dendrocolaptidae and
Certhiidae – their toes have extra-dtrong and curved toenails, but
their tails are not specilaized for bracing against a branch.
Vangidae: Falculea, 1
species
Fringillidae: Hemignathus; ca.
4 species
Paradisaeidae:
Epimachus, 2 species
Phoeniculidae: woodhoopoes, 8 species
Two orders, at least 6
families; at least 70
species
Mud-probers
Bill very long, typically rather blunt at tip. Legs long for wading.
Scolopacidae:, ca. 85 species
Ibidorhynchidae:
Ibisbill, 1 species
Mud-probers
Bill very long, typically rather blunt at tip. Legs long for wading.
Rostratulidae: painted-snipes, 2 species
Threskiornithidae: 30 species
Rallidae: ca. 50 species
Apterygidae: kiwis, 3 species
Aramidae: Limpkin, 1 species
Four orders, at least 7 families; at least 170 species
Flower-probers
Philepittidae: Neodrepanis, 2 species
8 families, ca.
500 species
Meliphagidae: honeyeaters,
ca. 30 species
Fringillidae: Vestiaria, 1 species
Nectariniidae: sunbirds, ca.
125 species
Although most flowerprobers are brightly
colored, some that are
not territorial are dull –
you won’t be tested on
a dull one.
Flower-probers
Thraupidae: Cyanerpes, Chlorophanes, 4
species
Promeropidae:
sugarbirds, 2 species
Trochilidae: ca.
330 species
Mohoidae: O’os, 5 species
(Hawaii; extinct)
Fish-eaters – dagger shape
Anhingidae: 3 species
Podicipedidae: 20 species
The species in these 4 groups catch fish
using underwater, mostly by pursuit.
Alcidae: murres and guillemots, 5 species
Gaviidae: 5 species
Fish-eaters – dagger shape
8 orders, 9 families, ca. 180
species
Ardeidae: 65 species
Alcedinidae:
ca. 25 species
Phaethontidae: tropicbirds, 3
species
Ciconiidae:
ca. 15 species
Herons and storks ambush fish by
stalking from shore; kingfishers
dive-bomb them from perches
(although a couple of species also
do it while hovering in flight).
Laridae: terns, ca. 40
species
Most kingfishers don’t
eat fish but instead
are landbirds that eat
large insect and small
vertebrates; these
species are all in the
Afrotropics,
Indomalayan, and
Australasian (e.g.,
Kookabura) regions,
and their bills differ
subtly from those of
fish-eating kingfishers.
Note: there are
a number of
fish-eaters that
you will not be
tested on that
have bills that
are basically
dagger-shaped
but are slightly
decurved at the
tip, but not
really hooked:
boobies,
gannets, some
storks, some
terns, some
penguins.
Terns and
tropicbirds
dive-bomb
fish from the
air.
Fish-eaters – hooked
3 orders, 4 families, ca. 80
species
Anatidae: mergansers, 5 species
Phalacrocoracidae:
36 species
Fregatidae: 5 species
Procellariidae: ca. 20 species
Diomedeidae: albatrosses, 15
species
Bark-drillers
Picidae: 210 species
Bark-driller bills superficially look like dagger-shaped fish-eating bills, but in cross-section they are
diamond-shaped, not laterally compressed (like a knife blade), and are often blunt at the tip.
Although they don’t drill bark the way
woodpeckers do, note that there are several
other groups that have similar bill shapes for
pecking at hard substrates, e.g., nuthatches
(Sittidae) and turnstones (Arenaria).

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