Seabirds | Shorebirds
Seabirds are a species of bird that spends most of its life in marine habitats. Some can be found in freshwater environments as well. Seabirds generally live longer, breed later, and have fewer young than other bird species. Seabirds also tend to nest in colonies and have extraordinarily long migrations, sometimes across the equator or around the world. Seabirds typically roam very far out to sea and can spend years at a time out at sea, returning only to nest or hatch young. Seabirds have different adaptations for life at sea, including their plumage which is drab, and dark colored so that they are camouflaged to be protected from predators above and below.
You can distinguish a shorebird species by observing the beak’s length, shape, and how it is used. Shorebirds have long beaks to help them propel food from the tip of their beak to its mouth. Some shorebird species will pick at invertebrates until they feel something to eat. Beaks are also used for preening themselves in order to keep their feathers warm and dry.
Shorebirds are important because they contribute in the creation of a healthy ecosystem. Shorebird droppings, guano, help fertilize the mudflats that they live in and the water they fly over. Guano help microscopic plants, phytoplankton, grow. Phytoplankton are essential to ecosystems as they are the bottom of the food chain, that many fish depend on.
A shorebird’s diet varies on the type of beak they have as it allows them to eat different kinds of items. Shorebirds are carnivorous and typically eats worms, clams, snails, and crustaceans. They may also eat insects, mollusks, larvae, and tadpoles.