Umbrella Bird Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Joy Blake

Joy has been a teacher for over ten years. She has primarily taught Middle School Math and has a Master's degree in Educational Leadership.

Could you imagine seeing a bird that looks like it has an umbrella at the top of its head? You would be seeing an umbrella bird. Learn about what an umbrella bird is, what it eats, and why it is so important for the rain forest.

What does an Umbrella Bird Look Like?

Everyone hates to be caught outside in the rain without an umbrella. But what if your hair could expand big enough to protect you from getting wet?

Well there is a cool bird called the Umbrella Bird whose feathers do just that. The feathers on the top of its head, called the crest, fan out to cover the birds entire head and look like an umbrella. These birds are about 14 to 20 inches long.

The black feathers at the top of the umbrella bird

An umbrella bird's feathers are primarily black, but one species of umbrella birds has red feathers on their chests. All umbrella birds have wattles, which are groups of extra skin that hang down on the chest of a bird. An example of another bird that has a wattle is a turkey. They use their wattles to make a loud noise at sunrise and sunset, which sounds like the low moan of a cow.

The red feathers show where the wattle is on this umbrella bird.

Where do Umbrella Birds Live?

Umbrella birds are found in the Central and South American rainforests. They live primarily at the tops of trees in the canopy. They use their feet to hop from branch to branch and perch or sit on those branches.

Umbrella birds live at the top of the rainforest canopy
Umbrella birds live at the top of the rainforest canopy

Even though it rains a lot in the rainforest, the umbrella bird doesn't use its crest of feathers to protect itself from the rain as much as you would think. Instead, the male umbrella bird uses its crest during mating season to show off for the ladies.

What does an Umbrella Bird Eat?

An umbrella bird is about the same size as a crow and loves to eat large insects and spiders. They also eat frogs, lizards, and small birds. Their large curved beaks help them to pick fruit and berries from the treetops. Umbrella birds help the rainforest flourish by spreading the seeds of the fruit they eat.

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