Thursday, June 26, 2014


K is for Kingfisher Science Fun

K is for Kingfisher!!
Join us for some bird-watching, beak-studying, science activity fun!

These beautiful Belted Kingfishers can be seen near lakes and rivers throughout North America and their cousins, the Common Kingfisher (pictured below), can be seen throughout most of the rest of the world!

Aren't their huge beaks amazing?!  I remember the first time I saw one in "the wild" was actually in the middle of a city.  In a more calm neighborhood, you can walk right down to a river that runs through the city.  As I scanned the water for wildlife, I saw one perched on a branch staring intently at the water.  While I watched, it darted its beak into the water and came up with a fish!

Take a walk (or drive!) to a river, lake, or pond and see if you can spot any kingfishers!  Tell-tale features on the Belted Kingfisher include the white throat, the two "belts" or stripes across the front, the large beak, and the "spiky hair."   Keep an eye out for other birds that like to go fishing: herons, egrets, plovers, and killdeer are common throughout North America. What do their beaks all have in common?  How is that different than song birds you may see in your back yard or in a parking lot?

This fun science activity to reinforces the concept that birds' beak shape is specific to their diet, and it's great for strengthening those fine motor skills!  You can also adapt it for Montessori Baskets by placing all the supplies in small containers in a bin and letting your child experiment on his or her own!

Beak Shape Science Activity:


* a small pile of marbles or similar-sized rocks
* a spoon
* a straw
* tongs
* a bowl

Easy How-to:

1.  Tell your child that he is a bird and the marbles are his food.  To eat them, he needs to get them into the bowl.  He only gets one minute to eat.  AND (here is the catch...) he has to do it with a straw!  

2.  Hand your child the straw and bowl and time him for a minute.  See how much he gets to eat.  

3.  Ask him if he thinks a spoon or tongs would work better and let him try again.  Time it again, and see if he gets to eat more this time.

4.  Discuss how different birds eat different things.  A sharp pointy beak can cut through the water quickly and grab a fish.  A thick, sturdy beak can break open nuts or seeds easily.  

Note:  If you are teaching more than one child, you may want to hand 3-4 of them an eating utensil, let them try if for a minute, and then rotate or discuss what happened.

5.  What type of beak would you expect to see in a woodpecker that pecks holes in wood to get to insects?  What about in a pelican that scoops up piles of fish?  What about a chickadee that eats small grains, insects, and spiders?  What about a hawk or eagle that eats mice?  What about a hummingbird that eats nectar?  

6.  See how many birds you can spot in real life and observe their beaks!   Summer is a fabulous time for bird-watching!!

This post is part of the ABC's of Nature Series hosted by School Time Snippets.  This summer 26 bloggers are bringing you fun and exciting ways to explore and enjoy nature with your kiddos!  Be sure to follow along to see more outdoor fun!

picture credits:
Belted Kingfisher in first picture: photo by Teddy Llovet
Common Kingfisher: photo by Karunakar Rayker

I may share at any of these parties!


Kristina said...

I don't know if I've come across a Kingfisher bird; they are pretty neat looking, though! Thanks for sharing photos & the bird beak activity! We've done it a couple of times and is always fun to do : )

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

They are cool looking Kristina!! I'm so glad you've done the beak is such a fabulous hands-on demonstration showing how forces interact in nature!