Last Updated: March 3, 2023
Birds are some of the world's most beautiful creatures that are usually grouped according to their sizes, wing length, and the color of their feathers.
Have you ever considered grouping them according to the length of their beaks? After all, their beaks vary in size and shape, with some uniquely shaped beaks while others have a sword-shaped bill. Here is our list of birds with long beaks:
8 Birds With Long Beaks
1. Sword-billed Hummingbirds
Nature has several ways of perfecting something, and it may have gone overboard with the Sword-billed hummingbird. Unlike all the birds, The Sword-billed hummingbird's bill is longer than its body. And like most birds with long beaks, the sword-billed hummingbird grooms itself using its feet.
It is the only bird species on the planet with the longest beak relative to the length of its body.
Generally, the long beak isn't abnormal or overgrown, but it is nature's way of helping this species survive. In fact, minus the bill, its beak is about 5.5 inches long and looks like a sword. Its unique beak is what sets it apart from other species.
The lower plumage of the males is lighter, while the color of the upper plumage is green. The sword-billed hummingbird is a solitary creature that neither migrates nor lives in flocks. The only time you can find a couple together is during their mating season (the male making a U-shape pattern in front of the females before separating again).
They feed on nectar from different flowers, including Passiflora and Datura; their elongated bills and tongue let them visit even flowers with long pendent corollas. This bird can be seen hovering while licking nectar from a flower, and at times you can find it perched below the flower while feeding.
2. Long-Billed Curlew
Native to North and South America, the long-billed curlew is a unique shorebird breed in grasslands and winters on the coast. Its exceptionally long beak is adapted to both places.
It helps them snatch earthworms from the pasture and catch crabs and shrimps in the tidal mudflats. Plus, their long legs can help them walk comfortably even on the mudflats while looking for earthworms.
Besides having one of the longest beaks on the planet, it is considered the biggest shorebird in North America, whose bill can attain a maximum length of 26 inches.
Fortunately, both males and females look the same, with their wings, head, and chests sparkling brown. They both have long beaks, and you can only differentiate between them by examining their long curved beaks.
The males have shorter bills than the females; plus, they're shaped differently. The long beak of the males is curved along their entire length, while that of the females is curved at the tip, while the top is flatter.
These birds are known for nesting on the ground right near the rocks and shrubs, laying 4 eggs. And unlike most birds, both parents incubate, defend the eggs, and look after the chicks.
But the females leave the chicks with the males after 21 days, while the males care for them until they are about 45 days old. They feed on beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and small amphibians. And in winter, they consume berries, seeds, mollusks, and small crustaceans.
3. Keel-Billed Toucan
Toucans are beautiful birds with huge bills. It's no surprise why the Keel-billed toucan is the first of its kind on our list. Its amazing bill can grow as long as its body.
They have an exceptional sense of smell and can easily sniff out some food from the deeper parts of the forest among the branches or vegetation. Even though their beaks look heavy, they are hollow and light. They're made from protein keratin.
Its tongue resembles a feather which it uses to dig out food before flicking it into your throat.
Its unique bill works the same way as the toco toucan's bill, but it does have some unique colors creating the splashy patterns. It has a green bill with an orange patch on either side.
When sleeping, these birds turn their heads, ensuring that the long part of their bills can rest on their back and then cover them with their tails. They live in groups, and you can find up to 5 adults sleeping in the same hole.
According to a certain South and Central American myth, the father of a newborn, should never consume this bird as it can bewitch the child. Unlike most birds, this species doesn't fly well; instead, it hops from one tree to the next.
Another exceptional thing about this bird is its courting ritual, the Keel-billed toucans use their huge bills to play with each other, and they can even throw fruits into each other bills. As aforementioned, they're social creatures that live in a small flock composed of a maximum of 12 birds.
They feed on a wide array of fruit but can also consume nestlings, lizards, eggs, and insects. They can be found in Central and South America.
4. Australian Pelican
Generally, there are about 7 pelican species on the planet, whose main similarities are white color and long bills. And one of the key pelican species that stands out is the Australian pelican, which can be found along the inland shores of New Guinea, Fiji, and Australia. They can also be found in Indonesia and New Zealand.
Even though they look huge and have some large wings, they can easily fly since the wings are only 10% of their body weight. These birds live in huge colonies and are known for preparing their nests using feathers, twigs, and grass.
The males usually win over their mate using a unique courting dance, then go into their nests and lay eggs. They mainly use their beaks to catch fish. They can also feed on other animals, including crustaceans, water birds, and turtles.
5. Lesser Flamingo
Unlike most birds, the lesser flamingos don't migrate; instead, they live in huge colonies composed of over a million birds. They inhabit the inland wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa and India. These birds are known for their huge beak that can attain a maximum length of about 41 inches, very long pink legs, and neck.
These magnificent creatures are usually active at night, and you may see them flying over water bodies in a unique V-shaped formation.
They don't have a sense of taste or smell; hence, they use their eyesight when hunting. Since the lesser flamingos live in huge colonies, their chicks can leave the nest and join a crèche of other chicks at 6 days old.
They can identify their parents by the voice they produce. Unlike other birds, the female lesser flamingos give their young ones "crop milk" which comes from their upper digestive tract.
They feed on blue-green algae and can occasionally eat crustaceans and small insects.
6. Toco Toucan
Our list would be incomplete if we didn't mention the Toco toucan; after all, it is the world's largest toucan that resides in Central America. Its unique beak accounts for up to 50% of its surface area. Their huge beaks help them access the hard-to-reach places in search of food.
They can also use their beaks to peel the skin off their favorite fruit, scare off predators, and even intimidate other birds.
But did you know that they can regulate their body temperature by simply adjusting blood flow to the beaks?
The toco toucan is an exceptional creature with a white throat, black body, and a beautiful colorful beak. They have long flat tongues inside their beaks that help them eat insects, frogs, and lizards.
Their beaks are made of keratin; therefore, they are not strong or heavy. And when asleep, they usually hide their beaks under their feathers.
Just like the spoonbills, the source of this bird's name is quite obvious; after all, its bill is shaped like a huge shoe with sharp edges. Its shoe-shaped beak is one of its notable features that makes it stand out and can help it consume huge fish prey.
They are solitary creatures that only interact with each other during the breeding season, and they are known for defending their nests aggressively. When hunting, they stand dead-still and wait for their prey. Unfortunately, they can even leave their nest when disturbed by human beings.
They feed on catfish, lungfish, eels, snakes, baby crocs, and monitor lizards.
8. Rhinoceros Hornbill
Some birds are named after their outstanding features and, in most cases, their color and body size. But other species like the Rhinoceros hornbills are named after the shape of their huge hornbills. After all, their impressive hornbill resembles a rhinoceros' horn.
On top of its beak, there is a feature known as a casque which curves upwards just like a rhino's horn, hence its name. These birds use their strong bills to reach the fruit on some thin tree branches.
They use the casque as a resonating chamber to help amplify their loud calls.
These birds can be found in the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and even peninsular Malaysia. They feed on fruits, particularly figs, eggs, tree frogs, arthropods, and lizards, among other small animals.
Birdhub Talk: From long beaks to strange but wonderful headwear, these extra special birds are fancy to watch! Flutter to this page and learn more about them -- Birds With Mohawks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Bird Has The Longest Beak?
According to the Guinness world records, the bird with the longest bill is the Australian pelican. These birds' beaks can attain a maximum length of about 18.5 inches, and it can help them access the hardest places to access.
Which Bird Has The Longest Beak In Relation To Its Body?
The sword-billed hummingbird is the only bird with the longest beak relative to its body length.
Which Birds Have A Pointed And Long Beak?
There are several birds with pointed beaks, the most common being the kingfisher and stork. The kingfisher and storks have broad, long, and sharp beaks, which they use to pick fish from the water.
Now you know some of the birds with the longest and uniquely shaped beaks and where you can find them. You also know how their behavior, if they're migratory birds or not, and beak types. You cannot attract some of these birds to your backyards, though.
Consider this article as your information sheet that could act as an exceptional bird guide the next time you go on an avian adventure.