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Bird adaptations- Beaks

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birds the best beak
Birds: The Best Beak

A look into the adaptations that help get birds the food they need.

An LSU Museum of Natural Science presentation to accompany the activity

bird adaptations beaks
Bird adaptations- Beaks

The most important function of a bird bill is feeding, and it is shaped according to what a bird eats.

You can use a beak shape to:

  • Identify a bird
  • Identify behavior and think about what it eats.
common bill shapes
Common bill shapes
  • Cracker
  • Shredder
  • Probe
  • Chisel
  • Strainer
  • Spear
  • Tweezers


-The pelican has a long beak with

a hooked tip and a huge pouch.

-The pelican’s pouch is used as a dip net to catch fish.

Pelecanus erythrorhyncho

-The pouch can even stretch to hold

up to two gallons of water!

wood duck
Wood Duck

-Wood ducks have broad, flat bills with rows of fine notches along the edge.

-They eat plants, seeds, grasses and other small insects and animals that they find on or under the water.

Aix sponsa

american robin
American Robin

-American robins search the

ground for insects and berries.

-They most commonly eat

earthworms, grubs, butterflies, cherries, and blueberries.

Turdus migratorius


Zonotrichia albicollis

-Though sparrows generally prefer to eat seeds with hard shells, sometimes they also eat flowers, insects, spiders, and berries.

-Sparrows look for food on the ground or in low bushes. They sometimes even fly up to catch insects in flight.

louisiana heron
Louisiana Heron

-Herons and egrets eat fish, crustaceans, and insects using their beak much like a spear.

They often stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet, flushing prey into view.

Egretta tricolor


-Hummingbirds have long beaks that are essential for reaching into long, tubular flowers to gather nectar.

Archilocus colubris

-Hummingbirds’ beaks are also

used to clean their feathers and to build their nests.

Selasphoprus rufus

Example of data table for amount of food collected at station with utensils (beak-type).Exemple de tableau à double entrée: quantité de nourriture collectée pour chaque atelier, avec les ustensiles (=type de bec)