Another animal adaptations book in my picture book science series is about birds: Spit Nests, Puke Power, and Other Brilliant Bird Adaptations (Nomad Press, August 2020). While I’ve always liked birds, doing the research for the book gave me an entirely new appreciation. Take toucans, for example.
They are known for their large, colorful beaks. But did you know how amazing those beaks really are? I didn’t. To start, those oversized beaks help toucans stay cool in the tropics because the beaks are laced with blood vessels; as blood pumps into the bill, excess body heat can escape. Toucans also use their bills to pluck fruit from trees or to reach into tree cavities to steal eggs from other birds. Their bills are also useful for digging out a hole in a tree for a nest. And, best of all, toucans use their beaks to play catch during mating season, tossing fruit back and forth to each other!
One last thing – even though their bills are huge (sometimes as much as 4 times the size of their head and almost as long as their body), they are lightweight because they are made out of keratin, the same material as our hair and fingernails are made of.