Skip to Content

Birds With Long Bills

Birds with long bills

Today we’re going to dive into the fascinating world of birds with long bills.

These unique creatures come in all shapes and sizes, from the majestic pelican to the tiny hummingbird. One might ask that hummingbirds are small? Yes, they are, but if you compare their bill with their body length, hen they have enormous bills!

Bird with long bills have adapted their bills to suit their specific needs, whether it’s foraging for food, attracting a mate, or defending their territory.

These birds are not only beautiful to look at, but they play an important role in our ecosystem. They help pollinate plants, control insect populations, and even distribute seeds.


Why Do Birds Have Long Bills?

Birds have long bills for various reasons, including:

  • Feeding: A long bill can help birds reach food that is deep inside flowers, crevices, or other hard-to-reach places.
  • Foraging: Different species of birds have bills of different shapes and lengths that allow them to specialize in certain food types, such as nectar, seeds, insects, or fish.
  • Species recognition: The shape and length of a bird’s bill can be an important characteristic for identifying different bird species.
  • Mating: For some birds, the bill size and shape can play a role in attracting mates or establishing dominance among members of a flock.


Some examples of birds with long bills include:

  • Hummingbirds: They have long, slender bills to reach nectar in flowers.
  • Toucans: Their large, colorful bills are used to reach fruit in the trees.
  • Pelicans: Their bills can be several inches long and are used to scoop up fish from the water.
  • Flamingos: They have long, thin bills that they use to filter food from mud and water.
  • Storks: Their bills can be up to 18 inches long, which they use to hunt for fish and other prey.

These are just a few examples, as there are many bird species with long bills adapted to their specific needs and habitats.


In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting birds with long bills, their characteristics, habitats, and behaviors.

So, grab your binoculars and get ready to explore the world of birds with long bills. Whether you’re a seasoned bird watcher or just starting out, there’s plenty to discover and appreciate about these amazing creatures. Let’s get started!


Pelicans – Family Pelecanidae

american white peilcan
American White Pelicans will sometimes participate on group foraging activities. In shallow waters, they swim together to heard fish into a more concentrated area, where they are easier to scoop up with their large, pouched bills. The American White Pelican is migratory, breeding inland as far north as northern Canada.

brown pelican
The Brown Pelican uses a foraging technique far different from the American White Pelican, even though the shape of their bills is similar. Brown Pelicans fold their wings and dive into the water to capture fish. The Brown Pelican is a coastal species.


Ibises and Spoonbills – Family Threskiornithidae

roseate spoonbill
The beautiful Roseate Spoonbill is fairly common along the Texas, Louisiana and Florida coastlines. More widespread in Florida. The spoonbill feeds by swinging their sensitive bill back and forth in shallow water.

glossy ibis
The long, curved bill of the Glossy Ibis is used for probing soft earth and mud. Found along the Gulf and east coast. Compare with White-faced Ibis, a more western species.


Sandpipers – Family Scolopacidae 

long-billed curlew
The bill of the Long-billed Curlew is similar im shape to the Glossy Ibis, and is also used for probing into mud and soft earth.  Compare to Whimbrel.

Many birds with long bills also have long legs to match. Visit the Long legs page for additional possibilities.

Other Characteristics

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

Let others know your thoughts or ask an expert

Would you like to get new articles of birds (Once a month?)

No SPAM! We might only send you fresh updates once a month

Thank you for subscribing!

No thanks! I prefer to follow BirdZilla on Facebook