Exploratory Activity on Bird Beaks

Assignment: Exploratory Activity on Bird Beaks
This is an exploratory activity that will help you visualize how an organism’s traits can affect its survival, and how some traits could become selected over time. For this activity you will need:
A pair of pliers
A pair of needle-nose tweezers
A slotted spoon
A drinking straw
Sunflower seeds in the shell
Colored water
A long narrow vase
Rice grains
Small block of Styrofoam
Three or four large marshmallows
A teaspoon of herbs (any kind will do, like basil or parsley)
A bowl of water
Ice cubes in a bowl of water
Set up six stations to represent different types of food that birds might eat, as follows:
Sunflower seeds scattered on a table
Colored water in a long, narrow vase (represents flower nectar)
Rice grain tucked inside the piece of Styrofoam (represents small insects in tree bark)
Marshmallows scattered on the table (represents meat from small animals)
Ice cubes in water (represent fish in a lake)
The herbs placed in the bowl of water (represents small plants and animals floating in a lake)

The pliers, the tweezers, the spoon, and the drinking straw are going to represent different types of bird beaks. The six stations you have set up will represent different types of food that different birds eat. Using your beak tools, decide which tool is best suited for each type of food. Refer back to your whiteboard activity from the warm-up of this section. Which bird beaks from the warm-up look like tools you have used in this activity? Describe how the development of a special beak shape could affect a bird species’ survival. How might beak shapes change over time if the usual food source changed? For example, if small insects began hiding deeper within a tree or if sunflower seeds developed harder shells? Describe how natural selection and evolution are demonstrated by this activity.

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