From "An Ode to America" (The Atlantic's Jan/Feb 2022 issue):
“Pretty good nose you got there! You do much fighting with that nose?”
New Orleans, 1989. I’m standing on a balcony south of the Garden District, and a man—a stranger—is hailing me from the street. He looks like Paul Newman, if Paul Newman were an alcoholic housepainter. I don’t, as it happens, do much fighting with this nose, but that’s not the point. The point is that something about me, the particular young-man way I’m jutting into the world—physically, attitudinally, beak first—is being recognized. The actual contour of me, or so I feel, is being saluted. For the first time.
The use of "beak" surprised me on a first gander through the piece, because, well, humans do not have beaks. What is meant by saying he went "beak first", and why would this unusual term be used?