Utah's Plants and Animals - How Important Is That Beak?

Have you ever been eating a sandwich in the park and seen a seagull come circling down from the sky and come over near your table with a hungry look in its eyes?

The California Gull is the state bird of Utah. It was selected because of the role it played in helping the early pioneer settlers of Utah from starving. Soon after the pioneers arrived in Utah they planted crops to help them survive. As the first fields of grain began growing, swarms of crickets invaded the fields, eating the crops. The pioneers tried everything to fight the pests and were about to give up, when flocks of seagulls came out of the skies and began eating the crickets. Thankfully, the seagulls were able to help save the pioneers from starving.

Seagulls are often seen near water. They nest near the Great Salt Lake in huge numbers and fly to the surrounding areas during the day to find food. Seagulls can be seen eating fish around lakes, scraps of food by dumpsters, and worms dug up by farmers with their tractors. Some seagulls fly many miles each day to find food and return to their nest in the evening to feed their young.

During the winter months in Utah, it is difficult to find any seagulls living here. That is because they migrate, or fly to warmer places such as California. Migrate means to move to another region with the change of seasons (seasonally).

Try It!

Determine the kind of beak that works best for picking food. Spread out some dry elbow macaroni on a table or desk. Try picking it up with a spoon, chopsticks, or a clothes pin. Which worked best? Experiment with other materials.

Notice how birds have different types of feet. How do their feet help them adapt to their surroundings?

Design your own imaginary bird. Draw a diagram and tell how each part of the bird helps it survive to where it lives.

Research information about birds by using books or the Internet. See if you can find sounds that birds make.

Make a bird feeder out of an empty milk jug. Hang it with some yarn in a tree near your window and fill it with bird seed. Enjoy watching and learning about the birds that come to visit.

utah state board of education This Sci-ber Text was developed by the Utah State Board of Education and Utah educators.