Unusual Bird Beaks and Their Uses:
- Eagles and other raptors have strong, hooked beaks for tearing fish.
- Anhinga and herons have dagger-like bills for spearing and grasping fish and frogs.
- Pelicans have pouched beaks, used as nets for scooping up fish.
- Hummingbirds’ beaks protect their long tubular tongues, with which the birds extract nectar from flowers.
- Swallows and whippoorwills use their wide, gaping beaked mouths to catch flying insects in mid-air.
- Cardinals and grosbeaks have short, cone-shaped beaks for cracking open seeds.
- Snipes have long beaks for probing in mud and water to find worms and other small animals.
- Woodpeckers have chisel-like beaks for searching under tree bark to find insects.
- Yellowbellied sapsuckers have drill-like beaks for boring into trees to feed on sap and the insects attracted to it.
- Suggested Food Resources:
uncooked shell macaroni, goldfish crackers, M&M® candies, gummy worms, chocolate sprinkles, peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, mini-marshmallows, cereals (you get the idea!) For an interesting ending, try individual cups of pudding for each student!
- Beaks (utensils): one set per group
clothespin, toothpick, straw, spoon, small plastic scoop, tweezers/small scissors
- Other Materials:
paper plate for feeding dish (1 per group), small cup for stomach (1 per student), whistle/bell to signal change of feeding
- Students should work in groups of 4-6, either at a table or around a clean mat on the floor.
- Your teacher will distribute one type of “beak” (utensil) to each student. Hold it in one hand and place the other hand behind your back.
- Your teacher will place a “stomach” (cup) in front of each student.
- One type of food will be placed in each group’s feeding area (plate) and, at your teacher's signal, you must compete for as much of that food resource as they can gather with their “beaks”. Your survival depends on your ability to gather food!
- Which beak was most successful for gathering that type of food?
- Do this for all the different foods!
1) Predict which type of beak will be successful in collecting each food type.
2) Compare each of the food items to things that birds really eat like snails, grubs, worms, seeds, and other things.
3) Give each student a small brown bag in which to store the food collected. If you use all edible items, students may eat them later as a reward snack.
4) Repeat the food-gathering activity with some types of foods floating in a plastic container of water.