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Bill Types. Length Characteristics Shape Characteristics Color. Long: the bill is decidedly longer than the head , as in a Ruby-throated Hummingbird or an American Woodcock. Length. Short: the bill is decidedly shorter than the head , as in a Carolina Chickadee or a Tufted Titmouse.

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Bill types l.jpg
Bill Types

  • Length Characteristics

  • Shape Characteristics

  • Color


Slide2 l.jpg
Long: the bill is decidedly longer than the head, as in a Ruby-throated Hummingbird or an American Woodcock

Length


Short the bill is decidedly shorter than the head as in a carolina chickadee or a tufted titmouse l.jpg
Short: the bill is decidedly shorter than the head, as in a Carolina Chickadee or a Tufted Titmouse

Length


Slide4 l.jpg

Comparison of Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs

Comparison of Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers

Length


Slide5 l.jpg
Straight: the line along which the mandibles close is in line with the axis of the head, as in a Great Blue Heron

Shape


Slide6 l.jpg
Hooked: line with the axis of the head, as in a Great Blue Heronthe upper mandible is longer than the lower, and its tip is bent over the tip of the lower, as in a hawk or a parrot

Red-tailed Hawk

Hawk-headed Parrot

Shape


Depressed the bill is wider than high as in a duck l.jpg
Depressed: the bill is wider line with the axis of the head, as in a Great Blue Heronthan high, as in a duck

Greater Scaup

American Wigeon

Shape


Slide8 l.jpg
Spatulate, or spoon-shaped: the bill is much widened, or depressed, towards its tip, as in a Northern Shoveler or a Roseate Spoonbill

Shape



Slide10 l.jpg
Compressed: Scoterthe bill, for a good part of its length, is higher than wide, as in a puffin or a kingfisher

Belted

Kingfisher

Atlantic Puffin

Shape


Recurved the bill curves upward as in a godwit or an american avocet l.jpg
Recurved: the bill curves upward, Scoteras in a godwit or an American Avocet

Marbled Godwit

American Avocet

Shape


Decurved the bill curves downward as in a long billed curlew a western sandpiper or a brown creeper l.jpg
Decurved: the bill curves downward, Scoteras in a Long-billed Curlew, a Western Sandpiper, or a Brown Creeper

Long-billed

Curlew

Western Sandpiper

Brown

Creeper

Shape


Chisel like the tip of the bill is beveled as in woodpeckers l.jpg
Chisel-like: the tip of the bill is beveled, as in woodpeckers

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Yellow-

bellied

Sapsucker

Shape


Slide14 l.jpg
Terete: the bill is generally circular either in cross-section, or when viewed anteriorly, as in a hummingbird

Rufous

Hummingbird

Shape



Bent the bill is deflected at an angle usually deflected downward at the middle as in a flamingo l.jpg
Bent: the bill is deflected at an angle (usually deflected downward at the middle), as in a flamingo

Greater

Flamingo

Shape


Stout the bill is conspicuously high and wide as in a grouse or a partridge l.jpg
Stout: the bill is conspicuously high and wide, as in a grouse or a partridge

Gray Partridge

Ruffed Grouse

Shape



Conical the bill has the shape of a cone as in sparrows or finches l.jpg
Conical: the bill has the shape of a cone, as in sparrows or finches

White-throated Sparrow

Purple Finch

Shape


Acute the bill tapers to a sharp point as in warblers l.jpg
Acute: the bill tapers to a sharp point, as in warblers finches

Golden-winged Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Shape


Slide21 l.jpg

with Angulated Commissure: the commissure forms a sharp angle at the point where the tomium proper meets the rictus, as in the Cardinal family

Northern

Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak


With gular sac the chin gular region and jugulum are distended as in a pelican l.jpg
with Gular Sac: the chin, gular region, and jugulum are distended, as in a pelican

Brown Pelican


Slide23 l.jpg

White-crowned Sparrow distended, as in a pelican

White-throated Sparrow

Field Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

Color


Corvidae jays crows and allies l.jpg
Corvidae distended, as in a pelicanJays, Crows, and allies

  • medium to the largest passerines

  • bristles pointing forward over the nares

  • bold, noisy, and gregarious

  • often nest predators

  • intelligent; cache food


Paridae chickadees and titmice l.jpg
Paridae distended, as in a pelicanChickadees and Titmice

  • small, sociable, and energetic birds

  • short, stout bill

  • cache food

  • in winter, form mixed-species flocks


Sittidae nuthatches and allies l.jpg
Sittidae distended, as in a pelicanNuthatches and allies

  • small, stocky forest birds

  • climb tree trunks; forage by gleaning

  • only birds that move down trunk head first

  • bill thin and pointed, typically straight

  • tail short and square


Troglodytidae wrens l.jpg
Troglodytidae distended, as in a pelicanWrens

  • small to medium-sized, chunky, active birds

  • slender bill, often decurved

  • tail usually short

  • several species often have tail upright and cocked

  • often found in shrubby habitat


Troglodytidae wrens28 l.jpg
Troglodytidae distended, as in a pelicanWrens

  • mostly small (to medium-sized) brown birds

  • almost always solitary

  • active & secretive; creep through vegetation

  • often found in shrubby habitat

  • forage for insects & fruit

  • narrow head & long slender bill, often decurved

  • tail usually short

  • several species raise tail above back

  • most nest in cavities; a few build globular nests of sticks & grass

  • aggressive towards predators, at least vocally


Sturnidae starlings l.jpg
Sturnidae distended, as in a pelicanStarlings

  • medium-sized, stocky birds

  • short, square tail

  • gregarious

  • some are mimics

  • represented in NA by European Starling, a medium-sized songbird w/ the dark silky plumage & short triangular wings typical of members of this family


Embirizidae sparrows and allies l.jpg
Embirizidae distended, as in a pelicanSparrows and allies

  • small to medium-sized birds

  • often brown and streaked

  • short, pointed, conical bills

  • forage mostly on the ground

  • often seen in shrubs


Embirizidae sparrows allies l.jpg
Embirizidae distended, as in a pelicanSparrows & allies

  • large group of mostly small (some medium-sized), streaked brownish birds of grassy & brushy areas

  • often seen in shrubs

  • short, conical, pointed bills

  • most switch their diet seasonally, from mostly insects & larvae in summer to mostly seeds in winter

  • many forage on the ground using a “double-scratch” method of kicking both feet back simultaneously to expose food

  • some species form large, pure or mixed flocks in winter, while others have very specific habitat requirements & do not flock


Fringillidae finches and allies l.jpg
Fringillidae distended, as in a pelicanFinches and allies

  • small to medium-sized birds

  • sexually dimorphic

  • stout, conical bill (crossed in 2 species)

  • emarginate tail

  • undulating, fast flight

  • long, complex songs

  • often forest birds


Fringillidae siskins crossbills allies l.jpg
Fringillidae distended, as in a pelicanSiskins, Crossbills, & allies

  • small to medium-sized birds

  • often forest birds

  • stout, conical (sparrow-like) bill (crossed in 2 sp.)

  • usually short emarginated (notched) tail

  • sexually dimorphic; males often brightly colored w/ patches of red or yellow; females drabber

  • constantly give distinctive calls in high, strong, fast undulating flight & often perch in treetops

  • long, complex songs


Passeridae old world sparrows l.jpg
Passeridae distended, as in a pelicanOld World Sparrows

  • introduced from Europe

  • similar to emberizine sparrows

  • small birds

  • stout, conical bill

  • no well-developed song; often repeat single elements


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