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On the wing

Image: St. Lawrence Marine ecosystem
St. Lawrence Marine ecosystem

Image: the cliffs
the cliffs

The cliffs

Image: common eider
common eider

Common eider

Its powerful bill extends high up on its head.
Its powerful webbed feet, located far back on its body, make it a good underwater swimmer./p>

Common eiders are very well adapted for diving down to the bottom, where they grab small sea urchins and various molluscs, especially young blue mussels.

At the Biodôme we feed them fresh fish as well as adult blue mussels that we open for them and leave on the bottom of the basin.

Image: black guillemot
black guillemot

Black guillemot

Its feet, located far back on its body, give it a sleeker profile for diving.
Its narrow wings help it fly through the air – and under water!

Most diving birds use only their feet under water. By spreading their wings slightly underwater, black guillemots can move fast enough to catch small fish.

If you stand at the underwater window of the main basin, you can see the black guillemots catching fresh fish tossed to them by Biodôme staff every day.

Image: common tern
common tern

Common tern

It has a straight, pointed bill.
Its long, slender wings make it a swift and elegant flier.
Its long forked tail makes it very agile.

Terns are such agile flyers that they can turn on a dime and even hover in one spot before plunging headfirst into the water to grab prey just below the surface.

Although their food is mostly served on a platter, the terns can sometimes be seen catching fresh fish tossed to them by Biodôme staff.

Image: the shoreline
the shoreline

The shoreline

Image: greater yellowlegs
greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

It has a long, thin and slightly curved bill.
Its neck is rather long.
Its legs are very long.

Greater yellowlegs are well equipped to hunt just by watching for their prey in shallow water and seizing it with a quick lunge.

Image: ruddy turnstone
ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone

Its straight, pointed bill is not very long.
It has almost no neck.
Its legs are short, but quite strong.

Turnstones are sturdy and low to the ground. This lets them use their bills to pry up stones and feed on the small invertebrates hiding underneath.

Image: short-billed dowitcher
short-billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher

It has a straight, long and flexible bill. The tip is sensitive to the touch and even to taste.
Its fairly long legs allow it to walk through shallow water.

Short-billed dowitchers’ heads bob up and down like a sewing machine as they probe the soil. They can feed on tiny prey hidden under the surface, which they detect with their sensitive bills.

Image: the coastal forest
the coastal forest

The coastal forest

Image: blue jay
blue jay

Blue jay

A blue jay’s versatile bill (medium length, strong and pointed) is perfectly suited to its omnivorous diet.
Its long tail and rounded wings let it glide and make sharp turns.
It uses its strong, dexterous feet to hold its food.

Blue jays are opportunistic foragers. They can break open cocoons and hard shells with their sharp bills. If necessary they can hold their food with their feet while they hammer at it with their bills.

Image: dark-eyed junco
dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

It has a short, conical bill.
Its slender feet can grip even the smallest perches.

Juncos’ small conical bills are perfect for grabbing and cutting open the hulls of tiny seeds. Sometimes they will perch on top of a seed-bearing plant and push it down to the ground so they can feed more easily on its seeds.

Image: fox sparrow
fox sparrow

Fox sparrow

A large sparrow with a relatively strong, conical bill.
Fox sparrows can be noisy, but their plumage gives them good camouflage and they can hide on the forest floor. Their powerful feet have long claws.

When they feed, fox sparrows often give little two-footed backward hops while scratching the litter on the ground with their claws, to turn up the food hidden there.

For more information:
Descriptive records

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