This is quite an assortment of birds that have two things in common: they eat insects and they build nests right on the ground. The beaks are not all alike because the way these birds forage varies a great deal. Killdeer and Horned Larks catch their prey by moving through deep grasses, capturing prey as it flies up trying to escape. The Common Nighthawk is an amazingly graceful flier that catches its food on the wing. Snipes and Phalaropes eat aquatic bugs. Snipes stay near the shore in shallow water while Phalaropes make for the deeper pools and ponds.
A big thing these birds all have in common is that they all nest on the ground, using excellent camouflage to protect their eggs and then fledglings from predators. Bright colors might be a problem and give your location away. Therefore, in most of these birds, there is no difference between the plumage of boys and girls. They are all designed to blend with the scenery and keep the birds safe.
The ExceptionUsually if one gender of bird is going to be more colorful, it is the male. That's because in most species the female bird spends more time on the nest and must blend into the surrounding vegetation for protection. However, there are exceptions to every rule. In Wilson's Phalaropes the female is much more colorful than the male. What does that mean? Yes, you've got it. In these birds the male takes on the role of nest keeper and the female can then be more eye catching.
Return to previous page
Last updated: December 11, 2021