How to "Read" a Skull: Beaks

The beak of a bird is an extension of its skull and is designed for feeding. Some beaks have evolved to specialize in feeding specific items. A duck, hawk, hummingbird and sparrow are all birds, but their beaks are very different due to their different diet. A duck has a wide flattened "bill" used for eating aquatic plants and mosses. A hawk has a sharp hooked beak used in tearing flesh from its prey or carrion. A hummingbird uses its long narrow beak to lap nectar from flowers and a sparrow has a small powerful beak used for picking berries and cracking seeds. As you can see, a bird's beak can tell you a lot about not only the diet, but also the lifestyle of its owner.

* Visit our Education Programs page to see what your students can learn about Animal Adaptations during a field trip to the museum, and how we can bring the concept into your classroom during an outreach visit.