In New Guinea and northern Australia, the palm cockatoo, a huge black parrot, uses its massive beak to pry open or crack even the toughest nuts and seeds.Photo:Joel Sartore
Omnivorous ravens have beaks suited to a generalist diet: sturdy but not too stout, pointed at the tip, able to handle just about anything.
The Java sparrow wears the requisite seed-crushing beak.
Recent studies have shown that toucans such as the chestnut-mandibled can control blood flow to their enormous beaks, an effective way of dissipating body heat on blazing tropical days.
Long-beaked sandpipers often probe for hidden food, while short-beaked ones usually pick at visible items. The red knot (pictured here), with a bill of intermediate length, does both while feasting on horseshoe crab eggs during its spring stopover along Delaware Bay. The overfishing of horseshoe crabs is imperiling red knots.