Discovery Cube’s “Bird Beak Adaptations”

Discovery Cube’s “Bird Beak Adaptations”

Beaks have evolved to help birds most efficiently capture and process food. See how birds that eat nuts, sip nectar, spear fish, and hunt prey have different kinds of beaks to help them get their food most efficiently. The shape of its beak will tell you what a bird eats!

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Time Needed:
30-45 minutes
3rd Grade
Life Science
Educator Rating:
Parent Rating:

What I'll Learn

Do all birds eat the same food?  As a family or small group, compete to see who can “eat” the most food using your different bird “beaks”.

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Before you begin, watch these two videos by Cornell University’s Naturalist Outreach:

What to Do

What I Need

What to Do: Step-by-Step Instructions


Scatter a variety of “food” shapes (such as toothpicks, marbles, beads, and crumpled paper) in the middle of the plate.  Then give each person a cup to use as a “stomach”.  Each person should then select a different tool (such as tongs, spoon, tweezers, or scissors) to use as a “beak”.

Set 20 seconds on the stopwatch.  When the time starts, each person is challenged to collect as much “food” as they can in their “stomach” (cup).

When the clock stops, have each person reveal the “food” they were able to “eat”.  Did one type of “beak” work better at eating a certain type of “food”?

Fun Fact:

Animals have adaptations within their own groups and families.  Different types of birds have different sized and shaped beaks, which can tell us about the kind of food each bird eats.  For example: a hooked beak is used for ripping and tearing meat, a cone shaped beak is perfect for cracking seeds, a thin slender beak is used to eat insects (like a worm), and a round flattened bill (like a mallard) is used for filtering and dabbling through the mud.

Reset the plate with all the materials and switch tools to play the game again!
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