What’s the Big Deal About BEAKS???

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WHY don’t all birds have the same beak?! I mean – they are all related right? Maybe they have different beak types for different types of eating! What do you think? Form your theory – and keep reading!
Alright – I’m going to have to stop you right here and blow your theory out of the water! Above you see a toucan. Toucans are beautiful birds with strangely enormous beaks! Scientists have just found that these large beaks actually help to regulate the temperature of the bird – similar to the large ears on an African elephant! This can open up a whole world of discussions with your children about what other animals do to regulate their body temperature.


Now if you notice the tip of this eagle’s beak there is a slight curved hook at the tip. This helps the eagle to tear his prey apart. Moving past the hook on the tip of his beak is an incredibly sharp upper mandible which further helps to tear apart prey. This acts similar to a scissors effect. Why do you think an eagle needs to tear apart his prey? Use this simple discussion to open up a conversation with your kids about the types of food animals eat!


Many pelicans have quite unusual beaks with a sort of pouch attached underneath. If you have ever seen Finding Nemo you should know what this is for! A pelican can store a large fish in here after it captures it until it get can get situated enough to swallow it! This can open up other discussions of animals that carry food in their mouth such as chipmunks and hamsters!


A hummingbird is a beautiful enigma and if you’ve ever seen one – you probably didn’t have the opportunity to watch it long before it flitted away to a different location! In fact when my husband and I were dating we were walking down by the sand dunes in Michigan and a hummingbird actually flew right into the side of my husband’s head! It was pretty hilarious later, but frightening when it happened because we never ever saw it coming! These little birds poke their beaks way down into the flowers in order to drink the nectar.



So as you can see beaks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Each beak is unique to each species of bird and have a very specific purpose. Here are a few ideas to get your kids thinking:
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. Have your kids list and/or draw as many different types of beaks as they can spot!
  • Print pictures or show your kids pictures online. Let them guess what each type of beak does and how it can help that particular bird. Color and decorate your page!
  • Make your own beak masks! Let your kids design their own beaks and wear them!
  • Activity Time! In order to drive home the lesson about why birds need beaks, take your kids outside and lay down a large blanket or flat pan. Throw some bird seed on it and ask your kids to try and pick it up using only their mouth! How much easier would that be if they had a beak?
So as you can see there are many different reasons WHY birds have the beaks they do! And these are just a few!! So I encourage you to take something simple, like I did with the bird’s beak, and open up a whole new world to your children. Sometimes a little prodding and thoughtful question can go a long way!


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