Birds with Pointed Bills

Many bird species have pointed bills.

  • Warblers have thin, pointed bill used in searching for insects.
  • Woodpecker bills are used for excavating.
  • The heavy, pointed bills of the herons and egrets are used for stabbing their prey.

There are so many species with pointed bills, you may find that this characteristic is most useful in determining what the bird is NOT. In fact, a common approach to identifying a particular bird is to start by determining what it could not be.

A good example is warbler vs. vireo. Warblers have thin, pointed bills. Many vireo species are a similar size and shape to warblers, but all vireos have a hooked tip to the bill.


black-throated blue warbler


Compare the thin, pointed bill of a warbler (above-female Black-throated Blue Warbler) with the heavier bill of a vireo ( below-Red-eyed Vireo). Vireo bills have a slight hook at the tip, not the straight tip of a warbler.


red-eyed vireo



Herons, Egrets and Bitterns – Family Ardeidae

reddish egret
This Reddish Egret has the typical stabbing bill of egrets and herons.


Gulls, Terns and Skimmers – Family Laridae

black turn
This Black Turn is molting. In breeding plumage it will be entirely black. Turns have strong, pointed bills. Gulls have heavier bills, often with a small hook at the tip.


Woodpeckers - Family Picidae

hairy woodpecker
This Hairy Woodpecker has the typical pointed bill of all woodpeckers.


Wrens – Family Troglodytidae

bewicks wren
Wrens have slightly curved bills with pointed tips, as seen in this Bewick's Wren.


Gnatcatchers – Family Sylviidae

blue-gray gnatcatcher
Gnatcatchers are small, active birds with thin, pointed bills. This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a common summer resident throughout much of the United States.