Friday, January 1, 2016

Beaks! A Book Review

Beaks!, by Sneed B. Collard III, is a neat look at bird adaptations, looking specifically at beaks and how birds use them in a variety of ways. I like how the book starts out, reminding us that a beak is something that really makes a bird unique, when it has no feet, hands, antlers, horns, or spines. 

The painted cut paper illustrations really look realistic and help focus on the intricacies of the bird. I am impressed with the small details presented in the book that I might not notice if these were pictures.  The text tells us about various ways beaks work, such as small beaks pecking, heavy beaks crushing, long beaks probing, or hooked beaks tearing. Specific details on the birds and the food they are eating are generally included. Beaks might be light, sturdy or strong, skimming, swishing, upside down, stabbing, plunging, or prying, like the crossbill. Some beaks are of showing off, such as the hornbill. Other beaks build, dig, change colors, or get shed, like the puffin. We just learned about this at Sea World, so it was good to reinforce it again. The book explains how beaks have changed over time, using an example of the Hawaiian Honeycreeper, and touching on natural selection and evolution. 

At the end, there is a test to see what types of beaks would eat what. We just saw a roadrunner when we were at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, so it's neat to see them included here. There is an answer key, along with a book list on birds and a list of websites related to birds. These are good, standard resources. 

I like that this book can be read on a couple of different levels. Each page has a shorter sentence that is larger. It could easily be read to preschoolers with these sentences. I would suggest knowing the other information in the paragraphs to share as appropriate with the preschoolers. It could also be used with early and/or intermediate readers easily. 

Interested in birds? 

Here are a few related posts:
Birds in Spring--Nature Preschool

Here are related resources:
Birdsleuth Activities related to the book, with links to videos and lesson plans--by Cornell
Birds, Beaks, and Adaptations lesson plans by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge