why do birds have different types of beaks

Why do birds have different types of beaks?



When I was in college one of the science lessons in my Science for Elementary teachers class had us trying to eat food like birds. That particular lesson stuck in my head, and I knew someday I would replicate the bird beak experiment with my science class. Fast forward several years and I’m homeschooling, not teaching in a public school, and we were learning about birds. I instantly knew my bird beak experiment was going to happen.

bird beak science experiment

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Supplies for our bird beak experiment

the bird food for the bird beak experiment

Beak supplies(these are all affiliate links): chopsticks, straws (non-bendy work best), pliers (this alone could be an experiment with the different types), tweezers, scissors, spoons (ideally one for each student, if not, then several copies)

Food supplies: marshmallows, nectar (lemonade), pistachios (I don’t have a good non-nut variation, I’m sorry), reeses pieces, rubber bands (though I used gummy worms this time because I had them) with sugar covering them, marbles

bird beak experiment printable (on the Subscriber page, join my newsletter), bowls to hold the food

We also used as the spine for our lessons: CKE Biology* or Apologia’s* Flying Creatures* (yes we covered animals several times)

The fun of the Bird Beak Experiment

Because this really is a fun project. A lot of bird facts involve what type of beak a bird has, and it’s so much fun to try out the different beaks.

I laid out the different food types in bowls, and the kids had to figure out the best type of beak to eat each food. Some are very obvious.

bird beak experiment with straw

Obviously the straw is going to be the best way to drink nectar, like hummingbirds. But, what about the marbles? They can be picked up in several different ways.

bird beak experiment with marbles

Eventually we settled on marbles best being eaten by a spoon, like the pelicans’ pouchlike bill.

why do birds have different types of beaks

The pliers worked great for the pistachios because like the Macaw and other birds of its type, it has a hard strong beak that can crush the nutshell and eat the softer nut inside.

bird beak experiment trying to get worms

Chopsticks, tweezers, and scissors can all grab similar types of foods, but the scissors worked best for gummy worms according to the kids. I personally thought the tweezers would work better for being able to pull them loose. I would use the scissors for the marshmallows to cut them into smaller pieces before eating.

This last part shows how scientific observations are not always cut and dry. We can’t just say, “This is the obvious answer,” because our viewpoints are being changed by how we view the world.

bird beak experiment goofing off

Which would you think would work best for reeses pieces or marshmallows?

Some more bird related ideas for your perusal


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