8. Bird Beak Buffet - Logistics

15-20 minutes introduction
45-50 minutes activity (The lesson plan is written so that the activity is introduced on one day and actually done the following day. It is also possible to introduce the activity and go through one or two years on the first day and complete the activity on the following day.)
15-20 minutes organize and summarize data
30+ minutes discussion

Each student is a bird foraging in the same feeding ground. At the end of each year, students gather in a group of similar-beaked birds to enter their foraging results on a clipboard. The introduction and final discussion occurs as a whole class in a classroom.

** If working as a whole class in a single feeding ground is too chaotic for your students, then this activity may be done in smaller groups of 3 or 6. Each group will get their own 1 meter square plot of ground or even a cafeteria tray on a table in the classroom to forage in. Each group starts with 1 or 2 representatives of each of the 3 beak types in the group and 100 beans of each color in the feeding ground. After each season, they should summarize their data and add new beans to their feeding ground. The bird that eats the most will reproduce and the bird that eats the least will die and get reincarnated.**


  • 1 pound of red beans
  • 1 pound of black beans (of a similar size and shape as the other beans)
  • 1 pound of white beans (of a similar size and shape as the other beans)
  • 25 plastic forks
  • 25 plastic spoons
  • 25 plastic knives
  • 30 paper cups
  • 1 stopwatch
  • 1 whistle
  • broom and dustpan for cleanup
  • 1 copy of the Bird Beak student handout for each student
  • 3 copies of the Bird Beak data tables
  • 4 clipboards with a pencil/pen tied to each
  • Optional: masking tape or string to designate the borders of the feeding ground

The activity takes place in an 80 square foot (9x9 foot square) feeding ground located in the classroom, on a concrete school yard or in a grassy field. The introduction and post-activity discussion takes place in the classroom.