The beak or bill is an important structure of birds that is used for various purpose like eating, preening, lifting, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship or feeding the young. Although beak shapes vary in size and shape from species to species, all beaks are composed of two jaws, known as the upper mandible (or maxilla) and lower mandible (or mandible). Here we cover the most common beak shapes for your easy understanding.
All-Purpose Beak

All-purpose beak

Birds like Crow, Jays, Magpies, Orioles, Robins, Thrushes, etc. exhibit a generalized type of beak, adapted for a wide diet. They have All-purpose bill that allows them to eat fruit, seeds, insects, fish and other animals. The large, strong bill is a tool useful for many purposes.

Cone Beak

Cone beak

Seed eaters like Sparrows, Pigeons, Peacock and Finches have short, thick and conical bills. The cone shaped bill helps the birds to crack seeds and nuts for food easily. The edges of the lower mandible (the lower bill) fit into special grooves in the upper mandible (upper bill). These type of bill is also known as “Cracker”.

Probing beak

Birds like Ibis, Curlew, Snipe, and Godwit have long slender bills that are used to probe in mud and shallow water for worms, crustaceans, and insects.

Spear Beak

Spear beak

Birds like Herons, Egrets and Kingfishers have spear shaped bills adapted for fishing. When they spot something suitable to eat, they quickly strike at it. Typically, they will grab the food between its upper and lower bill. Once in a while the bird uses its bill to actually spear its food.

Hooked Beak

Hooked beak

Birds of prey like Harriers, Falcons, Eagles, Vultures and Owls have sharp, curved bills for shreading and tearing meat. Raptors also have a unique “tooth” tucked inside their upper bill. This “tooth” is shaped like a small triangle and is called a tomila. It helps the bird kill its prey quickly by cutting the prey’s spinal cord.

Needle beak

Sunbirds and Hummingbirds have a needle shaped bill which is long and slender for probing flowers for nectar. This bill is long thin and tubular and resembles a straw.

Tweezer beak

Some species of birds rely on insects for food. These typically have relatively thin tweezer-like beaks that easily pick up and hold on to insects. Warblers, Wrens and Orioles are well-known examples of insectivorous birds with this type of beak.

Strainer Beak

Strainer beak

Some Ducks and Flamingoes have a bill with fringed edges to filter plants and small animals from water. The bill has tiny, comb-like structures around the edge which helps them to strain small animals, insects and plants out of the water and the mud.

Chisel Beak

Chisel beak

Birds like woodpeckers have long tapered bill used for drilling holes in trees. The bill helps them peck holes in the tree for food and nests. Having a strong bill lets them eat insects hidden under the bark of the trees. Its long, sticky tongue pulls out insects and worms from the hole.

Special Beak

Special beak

Spoonbills, Pelicans, Skimmers, etc. have flattened, long or pouch-like bills that they use to scoop up fish and other aquatic creatures. These birds have developed special adaptations to their bills for catching food.