What is a Softbill?
The term “softbill” does not have anything to do with the density of the bird’s bill. A softbill bird’s beak is just as hard as any other bird’s beak. The origin of the term has to do with the texture of the food eaten.
“Softbills or Softbilled Birds” is a non-scientific term given to a large group of birds that mainly eat softer food such as fruit, plant parts, nectar, and insects. Generally, the term does not include raptors, waterfowl, gamebirds, or seedeaters such as parrots, doves, and finches. Older avicultural books often call finches “softbills”, but, since they eat mainly seeds and are granivores, they are not true softbill birds. Lories are sometimes classified as softbills, because their diet is much more fruit and nectar based than other parrots. In discussions of softbills, shorebirds and gamebirds are generally included because of the housing and care similarities, but, again, are not true softbills. Some predatory birds such as crows and frogmouths are considered to be softbills. So the term “softbill” is confusing.
All true softbills are uncommon in private aviculture and typically only seen in zoos. This website discusses many examples of the softbills that have been, and sometimes still are, available in aviculture. Being a softbiller takes dedication and a love of a challenge because just finding softbill species can be tough.
|Turacos||Parrots – including Lories|
|Hornbills||Raptors – hawks, eagles, owls|
|Starlings & Mynahs||Doves|
|Toucans||Cranes & Storks|
|Corvids – crows, magpies||Poultry – chickens, ducks, geese|
Scientific Names of Families of Softbill Species:
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Copyright 07/09 Kateri Davis