a sneek peek

A Sneak Peek Into the Bird’s Beak

Seshadri K S

Deccan Herald | April 28, 2023

Beaks are an appendage diverse in shape, size and function. Bird beaks are technically referred to as bills composite structures that lack teeth. Beaks are bony extensions of the upper and lower mandibles (jaw) covered by a layer of keratinised tissue called ‘rhamphotheca’.

The keratinised tissue (from which our fingernails and hair are also made) may be pigmented, giving rise to brilliantly colourful beaks. Bird beaks have hollow air pockets that make them lightweight. Birds use beaks for many functions such as preening, catching prey, tearing into flesh and feeding the offspring, drinking nectar from flowers, digging wood or probing soft soil for worms.