Odd One Out

Perfect pinchers

Activity overview

Science topics:

Animals, including humans, Living things and their habitats, Evolution and inheritance

Spark a conversation with these three different beaks. This activity is great for promoting observation and discussion skills.

Run the activity

1. Show the three images above and ask everyone to come up with as many similarities and differences as they can. If they get stuck, prompt them to think about:

  • appearance
  • what they do
  • where they might be found

2. Then, everyone needs to decide which one is the odd one out and why. Encourage a reason for every answer and there is no wrong answer!

Background science

The three birds in the images are a puffin, a lapwig and a macaw. Some puffins shed part of their colourful beaks in winter, leaving a smaller, less colourful one behind that will grow through the rest of the year. Puffins dive down to great depths to catch fish, their staple diet. Their beaks have backward pointing spines so they can store rows of fish in their mouths without swallowing them. They also use their beaks as picks and shovels to build burrows when they return to land to breed in spring. The lapwing bird is found on farmland across the UK. Their long pointed beak acts like tweezers to precisely pick up small insects and worms. The macaw is a type of parrot and has a very hard, strong beak which can crack open nuts. They like to chew on things like trees to keep their beaks healthy.

Most birds are insectivores, that is, they eat insects, but across the world birds can be found that eat meat, plants and fruit. A bird's beak is actually an extenstion of its skull, and you can find nostrils on the upper beak. The beak itself is made of a hard, keratin substance, similar to our fingernails. 

Take it further

Charles Darwin studied birds in the Galapagos islands when he was putting together his Theory of Evolution. This STEM activity takes a closer look at these birds – known as Darwin's finches, due to the remarkable diversity of their beaks. Watch another bird getting its dinner in an interesting way with this What's Going On? activity. 

Image credits:

Dave Wilson via Flickr All Rights Reserved

Stephen Lloyd-Smart via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Quihuii Hanabi via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0