Bird Beak Adaptation

Blue Jay: 
Beak: Pliers
Food: Sunflower Seeds
Habitat: Field
Beak: Craft Sticks/Elastic
Food: Floating Straws/Styrofoam
Habitat: Marsh
Beak: Salad Tongs
Food: Sunk Modeling Clay
Habitat: Lake
Beak: Tweezers
    Food: Styrofoam in Log Holes
 Habitat: Forest

Teach bird beak adaptation in this easy and fun way!  You will need 4 each of: pliers, tweezers, chopsticks, and salad tongs.  I got all but the chopsticks from Dollar Tree.  In the picture it shows two craft sticks bound with an elastic, but chopsticks work better.  The tools will be used at 4 separate stations and represent different "beaks": pliers are seed-cracking (Blue Jay), tweezers are insect-pulling (Woodpecker), chopsticks grab floating plants (Duck), and salad tongs (especially ones with a fork side to "sieve" water) scoop up fish (Pelican).

The stations are the different habitats and food choices.  Divide class into four groups that will rotate through the stations, leaving tools in place for next group.

Station One: For seed eaters, print and laminate a picture of a meadow with sunflowers and have a bowl of unshelled sunflower seeds along with all four tools.  Have kids try out all tools and note which tool worked the best.

Station Two: For insect-eaters, drill a small log with several holes and stuff holes with Styrofoam peanuts.  Have a laminated picture of a forest along with all four tools again.  Have kids try out all tools and note which tool worked the best.

Station Three: For pond plant eaters, have a shallow dish with floating (green) drinking straw pieces and a laminated picture of a pond with water lilies.  Have kids try out all tools and note which tool worked the best.

Station Four: For fish-eaters, have a deep bucket (I used a cat litter bucket) with at least a foot of water and modeling clay fish at the bottom.  Have kids try out all tools and note which tool worked the best.  (Yes, arms will get wet and there will be giggling.  Good thing you laminated all your pictures!)  Oh, and have a laminated picture of a lake habitat.

Have kids rotate stations every 8-10 minutes, then return to seats to discuss which tool worked best at each station.  Then have them imagine which bird was represented by each beak.  You can display (laminated) pictures of a Blue Jay, Woodpecker, Duck, and Pelican to help them.  Discuss how each beak type is best suited to its task.

Congratulations!  Your kids learned about animal adaptation by acting out different bird beaks!


Add a hummingbird using a straw for a beak and a cup of water with plastic flower petals taped to the lip.  Do not share straws.  Or, ask kids what they would use to represent a hummingbird beak.  Suggest tools for the spear-like beak of a kingfisher or hooked tearing beak of a hawk.  (Actual use of tools in a classroom not recommended.)
Grabbing clay fish with tongs.
Cracking seeds with pliers. 
Holes made by sap-sucker woodpecker.


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