A-z - Animals

10 Birds With the Longest Beaks

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  • The sword-billed hummingbird is the only bird known to have a beak longer than its entire body. Like many other hummingbirds, the beak developed to suck nectar from trumpet-shaped flowers
  • Not only does the stork have the longest beak in the world, but it also has very long legs. Not only are their bills long but rather robust and sensitive. This enables them to stick their beaks into murky water and find prey by touch
  • Pelicans are long-billed water birds, but they have an expandable pouch in their beaks. This allows them to scoop up the fish and simply strain unwanted water out of the bag before they swallow their food.

The size and shape of a bird's beak can often give an idea of what it eats and how it catches what it eats. Birds such as cardinals have strong, conical beaks for cracking nuts and seeds. Birds of prey tear through their food with their hooked beaks, while birds with short, pointed beaks are often insectivores.

Birds with long, dagger-like beaks, on the other hand, use them to detect and impale prey, whether it's fish, small reptiles, or amphibians.

Other birds that have evolved long beaks use them to access flowers and find nectar. Perching birds with long beaks may use them like extension poles to catch fruit or bugs. Here are ten species of birds, or birds with the longest beaks in the world.

#10: Stork

10-birds-with-the-longest-beaks-1
Stork has the longest beak and legs in the world.

©iStock.com/Simon11uk

These birds evolved to ford water and spear their prey, so not only do they have the longest beaks in the world, but they also have long legs. Storks belong to the stork family, and they are distributed in 6 genera and 19 species. Not only are their bills long but rather robust and sensitive. This enables them to stick their beaks into murky water and find prey by touch.

Some storks include:

  • Stork: One of the ugliest creatures on Earth, this bird with its bald pink head, huge beak and dangling tear sac was once hunted for its unusually soft down. It is also the largest stork, with a wingspan of up to 12 feet and a standing height of 5 feet. It lives in Africa.
  • Wood stork: Not a few degrees uglier than the stork, which also has a bald head, although the skin is taupe. The bald head is not so that it is easier to plunge its head into a carcass or garbage pile like a stork, but to plunge its head into muddy water to find prey such as amphibians, insects, crustaceans and fish. Wood storks are found in the southwestern United States and South America.
  • White Stork: The long beak of this more attractive stork is red, but the rest of it is white with black wing feathers. White storks, about 45 inches tall, ford water in streams and swamps, feeding on amphibians and other small aquatic life. It is distributed in Europe, Africa and eastern India and Pakistan.
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#9: Eurasian Spoonbill

The long, broad beak of the Eurasian spoonbill enables it to catch small aquatic life as it skims the water.

©iStock.com/JMrocek

This long-billed, long-legged bird looks like a stork, but it's not. The bird, about 35 inches tall, is found in North Africa, southern Europe and eastern Asia and is named for its wide beak with a flattened end.

As it skims the waters of lagoons and swamps and holds it slightly open, this long beak is the perfect trap for small aquatic creatures.

#8: Piebald Crocodile

The piebald crocodile has a thin bill that curves upward.

© iStock.com/Ian Fox

The spotted crocodile is a much smaller wading bird than the stork, found in Europe, Central Asia and Russia. Its feathers are charming black and white, and its beak is not only long but also thin, and has an upward curve. Its other distinguishing feature is its flippers, which are unusual for a member of the stilt family. It feeds in brackish or brackish water, waving its beak through the water in search of prey. Crocodiles can also swim into bodies of water, flip them over, and hunt like ducks.

Adult birds are white except for the black crest and black patches on the wings and back. They have long upturned bills and long blue legs. These birds forage in shallow salt water or mudflats, and their beaks often move from side to side in the water. They mainly eat crustaceans and insects.

#7: Eurasian Curlew

The Eurasian Curlew's beak is slightly curved downward, making it easier to poke into the sand.

© iStock.com/SzymonBartosz

In contrast to the piebald parrot, the Eurasian curlew's long beak is slightly curved downward. This somewhat drab bird lives in the grasslands and peat bogs of Africa, Europe, Russia, and South Asia. It made up for its bland exterior with beautiful songs and ritualized battles for territory. In winter, curlews fly to shorelines and estuaries, using their beaks to scan the mud and sand for tiny crustaceans and worms. Unfortunately, the conservation status of the curlew is all but threatened.

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#6: Hoopoe

The hoopoe uses its beak to detect lizards and insects.

©iStock.com/JMrocek

Native to Europe, Africa, and Asia, this bird is known for its imposing crest and long, pointed, thin beak. While earth tones of cinnamon brown, dark brown, black, and cream are available, the colors are arranged in aesthetically pleasing patterns, including what can only be described as zebra stripes. This is especially true when the bird is in flight and reveals the black and white stripes of its wings and tail. As for the long beak, it is used to detect small lizards and insects on the ground.

#5: Red-billed Sicklebird

The red-billed sickle uses its long beak to detect insects.

© Leonardo Mercon/Shutterstock.com

The bird with its plain reddish-brown plumage stands out because of its beak, which, as its name suggests, is long and red and shaped like a sickle. The bird is a wood-climber found in the forests of South America and survives by climbing tree trunks and using its bill to detect insects and other small arthropods under the bark. The length and curvature of the beak allow for deep probing and long distance probing.

#4: Toco Toucan

A toucan's beak helps keep the bird cool.

©iStock.com/Musat

The Toco toucan's beak is not only exceptionally long, but also very large . With its sunset-colored black tip, it's the body part that makes this otherwise just fun bird famous. This toucan's beak looks too heavy to carry around, but it's light, hollow and serrated. It has the largest beak surface area of any bird, although the beak of the sword-billed hummingbird beats it in length. For centuries, biologists have wondered why toucans have this beak. Some believe it is to attract the opposite sex or intimidate rivals. It has been found that the bill does keep the bird cool and is always useful for catching hard to reach fruit or game.

#3: Normal Sniper

Sandpipers have the longest beaks of all shorebirds.

© iStock.com/VladimSu

This plump little bird is also a wader and is found throughout Europe and Asia. It also overwinters in warm European countries and Africa. The sandpiper, with its tan plumage and short tail, has the longest beak among shorebirds. Not only that, but the tip of the beak is flexible, allowing the sandpiper to poke into the dirt in search of worms and other small animals. Another nice thing about this bird is that its eyes are close to the top of its head, which allows it to look for trouble even when it's eating. Males are known for performing spectacular hovering and diving courtship displays.

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#2: Pelican

Pelicans use their inflatable pouches to filter unwanted water before swallowing food.

©iStock.com/CalinStan

Like storks, pelicans are long-billed waterbirds, but they have an expandable pouch in their beaks. This allows them to scoop up the fish and simply strain unwanted water out of the bag before they swallow their food. Except for the landlocked countries of South America, pelicans are found in warmer regions all over the world. Types of pelicans include:

  • Australian Pelican: This bird is found in Australia, New Guinea, and other parts of Oceania. It is 6 feet long and has an 8.5-foot wingspan. The bird's plumage is mostly white, the main wing feathers are black, and it has a very long pink beak. In fact, the Australian pelican has the longest beak of any living bird. The beak of a large male can be as long as 18 inches.
  • Great White Pelican: This large white-feathered bird is found in the Mediterranean, South Africa, and Asia, and breeds in Russia. During the breeding season, its plumage takes on a rosy color. Its beak can be nearly 16 inches long. Great white pelicans can form in large flocks and can be seen flying in amazingly precise formations.
  • American White Pelican: This large, fat bird can be close to 6 feet long, most of which is taken up by its beak, which can reach 15.2 inches long. Males are a bit larger than females, but otherwise it's hard to tell them apart. It is the only pelican with a horn on its beak, but this horn only appears during the breeding season and then falls off. The American White Pelican is found in Canada, parts of the United States, and Mexico and Central America.

#1: Sword-billed Hummingbird

The sword-billed hummingbird's beak is longer than its entire body.

©iStock.com/AGAMI Stock

The sword-billed hummingbird comes first, as it is the only bird known to have a beak longer than its entire body. Like many other hummingbirds, the beak developed to sip nectar from trumpet-shaped flowers. It's so long that it's useless for anything else. While other birds can use their beaks to groom themselves, this tiny Andean bird has to use its feet. Interestingly, females have longer beaks than males.

Longest beaked birds summary

Here is the list of birds with the longest beaks:

rank bird
1 sword-billed hummingbird
2 pelican
3 common sandpiper
4 toco toucan
5 red-billed sickle bird
6 hoopoe
7 Eurasian Sandpiper
8 piebald crocodile
9 Eurasian Spoonbill
10 stork

next…

  • 10 Unbelievable Facts About Shoebills. Shoebills remain one of the most impressive and fearsome birds on Earth. Read on to learn some incredible shoebill facts!
  • 10 Incredible Hummingbird Facts. They are known for their beautiful colors, aerial acrobatics and lightning speed. Read on to learn these and many more incredible hummingbird facts!
  • What do pelicans eat? The pelican is a large water bird known for its "spoon-shaped" beak pouch it uses to catch fish in the water. Let's take a look at these fascinating birds and find out: What do pelicans eat?

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sword-billed hummingbird
sword-billed hummingbird

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My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.

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