Bird Adaptations

Last week we did one of my favorite science experiments of the year.  We’ve been studying animal adaptations and spent a little time learning about how birds’ beaks are physical adaptions of birds.  To enforce this concept we did a little experiment on birds’ beaks.

This activity does require quite a bit of preparation, but I feel that it is definitely worth the work.  To begin with, I collected several types of tools to serve as birds’ beaks (tongs, tweezers, slotted spoons, eye droppers, staple removers, etc.)  Then, I collected a variety of bird foods (snails/macaroni, grubs/m&ms, nectar/red water, worms/ gummy worms, small seeds, large seeds, flesh/staples in cardboard, fish/paper clips, beetles/raisins, duckweed/Styrofoam).  I typically mix the food in with oatmeal or potting soil to make it a little more realistic for students.  During the activity students have two attempts to collect as much food as possible with the two beaks of their choice.  I like to give students 30 seconds for each attempt, and I have students record their results on their data collection sheet.

Yum!  Snails!

 Grubs anyone?
 What beak works best for beetles?

 Every year my students LOVE this activity!  You can download your copy of the data collection sheet by clicking on the picture below.


  1. says

    This makes me think of my honeymoon, when I took like 100 pictures of birds at a museum so that I'd have photos of their beaks for a lesson like this. (Yup, on my honeymoon.) The kids always love it and it really makes adaptations make sense to them! They also really enjoy sticking their hands into two plastic bags and then putting them in cold water. One plastic bag has another around it filled with Crisco, and so they can see how "blubber" makes whales and other animals stay warmer.

  2. Marlet Villa says

    Hey! I love your idea!! How did you use the worksheet though? Did you time them for each tool used? I would appreciate your response. Thank You!!!!!! (:

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