Flocking for Food

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In this outdoor beach activity, learners use a variety of "beaks" (such as trowels, spoons or sticks) to hunt for organisms that shore birds might eat. Each learner receives a “beak” and a “stomach.” After searching for food, the “birds” gather to examine the contents of their stomachs. The activity closes with the learners trying to discover how real shorebirds find their food. This activity not only gets learners thinking about adaptations for survival but provides a chance to observe bird behavior.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • "beaks" (e.g. trowels, spoons, and popsicle sticks)
  • "stomachs" (half a milk carton or other suitable container)
  • magnifiers
  • large index cards
  • pencils
  • tide table (for saltwater sites)
  • "Use of the Tide Table" Technique Card (page 5 of PDF)
  • guide to local shore birds (optional)
  • binoculars (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Tides
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1982