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  Illinios Birds of Prey   

IL Birds of Prey -- Natural Tools

Natural Tools

The bird world contains an amazing variety of beaks. A bird's beak, or bill, is made of bone and is covered by a horny plate called keratin. The tip of the beak is hooked and the edges are sharp. The hooked beak is used to tear meat since most raptors eat prey too large to swallow whole. Bird's beaks are specifically adapted for the foods they eat. The upper beak of a falcon is notched. This "tooth" is used to break the neck vertebrae of its prey. Another natural tool of the birds of prey is a strong jaw and neck muscles to help tear apart their prey.

These birds have a soft and fleshy area called a cere at the base of the upper bill. The cere is featherless, an adaptation that helps meat-eating birds keep the area around the bill clean. The cere is easier to clean than feathers.

At-Home Activity
Not all birds eat the same kinds of food. Some birds are insectivores and eat insects. Some are gramnivores and eat seeds and grains. Some are carnivores and eat meat. Other birds eat fruits or a combination of foods. Try this experiment to see what foods the birds in your backyard prefer. Place cracked corn, bird seed, suet (fat), worms, raisins and scrapes of meat in separate shallow dishes. Stand inside and watch birds coming to the feeding area. Record which birds eat each food. Be sure to clean up the food dishes (those without seeds) after a short time, especially if the temperature is warm.


Make a Match

Birds perform many tasks using their beak as tool. Draw a line to match each beak to its corresponding human tool. Then draw a line to the correct name of the bird.

Illustration of Birds
A) straw B) vise C) scissors D) forceps
E) bald eagle F) ruby-throated hummingbird G) American goldfinch H) warbler



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