Bird Beaks and Feet - KEY

Original File: Bird Beaks and Feet

Answers will vary on many of these, students should use discretion and "best guess" on what the bird's diet is. Any reasonable answers should be accepted. Also, the flamingo is a special case, it is unlikely students will know their very specific diet (shrimp) and cannot deduce from a picture. It is a good opportunity to discuss why flamingos are pink - because of the shrimp they eat.


Data Table

Type of Feet
Type of Beak
Probable Diet
Probable Habitat
Bluebird three toes in front, one behind short & rounded seeds, insect forest, meadow
Chicken short, blunt short & rounded seeds, insects meadow
Duck webbed flat algae lake
Eagle talons hooked small animals meadow, forest
Sparrow three toes in front, one behind short & rounded seeds, insects forest, meadow
Flamingo long, skinny hooked *shrimp* near water
Heron long, skinny hooked fish near water
Kingfisher three toes in front, one behind spear-shaped fish near water
Owl talons curved small animals forest
Pelican webbed scooped fish water
Hummingbird tiny long, tubular nectar meadow
Woodpecker 2 front, 2 back chisel insects forest


1. What features of a hummingbird make it adapted for its style of feeding?

Small legs allow it to hover near flowers and drink the nectar of the flowers. Small size allows it to hover in one place without perching on the flower.

2. Imagine an ideal flying predator. What type of beak and feet would it have?

Large talons for grasping prey, hooked beak for tearing flesh.

3. Different birds may have similar beaks and diets. Loons, herons, and kingfishers, for instance, all have long sharp pointed beaks for spearing fish. Their feet, however, are quite different. Describe how the loon, heron, and kingfisher differ in the method by which they hunt for fish (using their feet to help you answer)

The loon swims as it hunts for fish, probably dives and captures fish underwater.
The kingfisher is a perching bird and probably spends much of its time in trees. It probably spots fish from above and dives for them from the air.
The heron is a wading bird, catching fish near the shoreline.

4. Owls have large eyes that enable it to see well at night. Both the hawk and the owl hunt similar things: small rodents or snakes. How do the hawk and the owl avoid competing with each other?

The owl hunts at night, the hawk hunts during the day.

5. Birds the live on the prairie have short but muscular legs (like the pheasant). Prairies are large grasslands that have few numbers of trees. What do you think the legs of a pheasant are adapted for?

Their legs are adapted for scratching dirt, or running.