Friday, October 13, 2017

Beauty and the Beak

Beauty and the Beak: how science, technology, and a 3-D printed beak rescued a Bald Eagle.
by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp
48 pages; ages 5-12
Persnickety Press, 2017

themes: engineering, animal rescue, nonfiction

In a huge nest of twigs, high above an icy cold Alaskan river, a Bald Eagle chick cracked open her egg.

At first she's covered in down. But soon her wings become longer and stronger. Bit by bit her feathers grow in. She's a teen, taking test flights, and then off on her own. She hunts, eats, and soon is ready to fly back to the land where she was born. But one day she is shot in the face. A bullet shatters her beak, tears her eye, and leaves her bleeding.

"Beauty" is rescued and taken to a wildlife center where she can heal. But she can't eat or drink because her beak hasn't grown back. Then Janie, a raptor biologist, takes Beauty to a raptor center in Idaho. She works with an engineer to try something crazy: create a prosthetic beak for the eagle - and make it with a 3-D printer! But would it work? It did, and Beauty learned to eat and drink again on her own.

What I like about this book: This is a true story of how engineering and technology come to the rescue! That would be enough, but there are 16 pages of back matter packed with details about Beauty's beak and other prosthetic devices, as well as tons of facts about Bald Eagles.

I also like that this book comes out in the tenth anniversary year of the Bald Eagle being taken off the Endangered Species List. Even though they are no longer "endangered", Bald Eagles still face many risks - especially from human activity. People shoot them, or the eagles collide with cars, trains, or power lines.

Beyond the Book:
Listen to sounds made by Bald Eagles at Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website. You can also learn how to identify Bald Eagles.

Watch Bald Eagles via "eagle cam". Here's one in Washington DC. Season is over, now, but you can review the summer highlights.

Check out this post on "Wild Engineering."  And then head over to see this video about how the engineers created Beauty's new beak.

Then try your hand at engineering a prosthetic tail for fish! Download this pdf for some science and engineering fun. There's also an activity where you can engineer a  model of a prosthetic beak!

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy from the publisher.
edited: December 18, 2017


  1. I want this book! Thanks for sharing, I had heard of the story and am dying to read it.

  2. Yes! I had forgotten about this one, and I want to read it! Thanks for the reminder! I want to share it with my son who is all about 3D printing and loves animals.

  3. Awesome story! I want to read it and then give it to a grandchild.

  4. What a cool story! I will definitely check this out. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. Wow -- science for the win! My kids would love this; I'll check it out.