Pilofile open

The pilofile's bristles expand its insect-catching area beyond the region of its head.

Pilofile closed

When its beak is closed the bristles drop down, allowing it interrupted forward vision.

The pilofile, Phalorus phalorus, is a migratory sandpiper, descended from the red phalarope, from the Northern Hemisphere tundra.

During the summer months the tundra is literally infested with flying insects and has a large population of insect-eating birds. Many, like the pilofile, have bristled beaks - a ring of stiff hair-like feathers surrounding the beak that forms a cone and deflects insects into its mouth. The bristles in effect widen the bird's potential capture area and increase its food supply.

Pilofile flying

In summer the pilofile feeds on the wing.

Pilofile new beak

In winter it migrates south, shedding its bristles and growing at their place a long probing beak.

Pilofile egg

The pilofile's green-and-brown-blotched egg is perfectly camouflaged in the tundra vegetation.

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