A birds beak differs based on the birds place in its ecosystem. Some birds eat bugs, some eat rodents, and some eat nuts and berries. Since each of these different food types requires different tactics to eat it, birds have evolved different beak styles over the years so that they can better cope in their environments.
Types of Bird Beaks:
Cone Shaped Beaks:
Cone shaped beaks are common in several families of birds. Most common and recognizable is the finch. These beaks are used for cracking the seeds of different plants.
Thin, Pointed Beaks:
Thin, pointed beaks are typically found in insect eating birds. This type of beak is designed to pick insects off of plants and through grasses. These types of beaks are not as good for catching insects in flight. Warblers are the most common and recognizable birds with this beak type.
Strong Tapering Beaks:
Tapering beaks are good for hacking into wood. These types of beaks are common on woodpeckers, or other birds that eat insects and grubs that live under the bark of trees. Woodpeckers also use these beaks to make their nesting areas (see Cavity Nests.)
Long, Tubular Beaks:
Long, skinny beaks are found mostly in birds which drink flower nectar. This includes the hummingbird family. These long, thin beaks allow the birds to get into the small, thin places where the nectary is located on a majority of flowers.
Sharp, Tooth-Like Beaks:
The toothlike structure on these beaks is used mostly for catching fish. Typically you will find this type of beak on waterfowl, including the merganser. The tooth on these beaks is used to help hold slippery fish in place.
Sharp, Hooked Beaks:
Sharp, hook shaped beaks are a common sign of a raptor. These beaks are used to tear flesh from bone, and also to puncture and kill prey. Eagles and hawks are the most recognizable type of birds with this beak type.
Friged beaks are designed much like the baleen of a whale. That is that is is designed to filter through the water catching small plants and microinvertebrates (small water bugs.) Ducks and geese would be the most commonly recognizable types of birds with this beak type.
Flat, Wide Beaks:
Flat, wide beaks are designed to help birds catch insects in flight. Contrasting with the thin, pointed beaks that help the bird pick bugs off of things, this beak type is best suited for insects that are in motion in the air. Flycatchers and swallows are the most recognizable bird with this beak type.