Life Cycle - Natural Environment (1B)
Pre Lab 

  • Discovering how birds eat.
  • Comparing bird's beaks and feet.


  • carnivore
  • filter feeder
  • food chain
  • habitat
  • herbivore
  • omnivore
  • prey 
  • worksheet

Students use a worksheet to learn how birds eat.


Most of the birds that students see are wild.  They are one of the few wild organisms that children can identify in the country and in the city.  All children know what is meant by "to be free as a bird".  

Birds have no teeth and their jaws have a hard covering called the beak or bill.  The bill is adapted to the ways in which birds eat and to what they eat.   Some birds can be a carnivore or meat eaters.  A bird that eats worms is a carnivore.  A filter feeder uses its bill  to filter water for its food.  Many water birds are filter feeders.  A herbivore eats plants.  A hummingbird eats nectar and is considered a herbivore.  An omnivore can eat plants and meat.  A bird that eats worms and seeds are considered an omnivore.   

Birds feet can also help in determining how they live.  Feet that are webbed means that the bird lives in water.    

  1. Give students the bird  worksheet. Students will color the different types of beaks that show how different birds eat.  They will use this sheet during lab, so make sure that they don't throw their sheets away.  Also on the coloring sheet are ways to identify the type of bird's feet and observation of the feet can yield clues to  the use of a particular bird's feet in his particular habitat. 
  2. Point out to the students that the size of the pictures do not represent the true proportions.  They are to look at the overall shape for identification.  Identifying birds can be a rewarding experience for children.  However, you must give them clues to observe. 
  3. The worksheet shows the difference between bird beaks that are carnivores and herbivores.  Discuss with students that the shape of the bill (long and broad--usually water) or beak (short--usually land birds) is important, not only for identification, but also to find out how the animal eats.  Also, note the picture of the "tools" that explain how the beak works.  The bird's feet also give clues to whether a bird is a predator or not.
  4. The worksheet shows the difference between predators, insect eaters, seed crushing, filter feeders, and fish eaters.  The feet also illustrate the differences between swimming, catching prey, climbing, perching, and wading. 
  5. You may want to use  books in your library or the Internet to show students a variety of birds. 

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