Science Observation: Owl Pellets

If you are easily grossed out, I’d recommend finding some other reading material for today. You can come back next post. I won’t judge. My daughter’s math book recently had a reference to owl pellets, which, she’d never heard of (I know…I’ve completely failed as a parent educator). So of course, relieve my guilt, and satisfy her curiosity, I put together a little pellet party. What can I say? I’m a nerd to the core. Owl Pellets We invited some equally nerdy (i.e. wonderful) friends over and had ourselves a great time ripping apart the little balls of regurgitated fur and bone. I found out afterwards that we’ll be dissecting pellets during Classical Conversations Cycle 1 this coming year. Since I’m tutoring, I’m extremely pleased I’ve got a go-round under my belt before attempting it with my class at CC. Owl Pellets I set everyone up with an owl pellet, a paper plate, a pair of gloves (which we ended up not using — it was easier to just go at it bare handed), tweezers, magnifying glass, black paper (for easier viewing of the bones), a bone chart, dissection lab packet and a couple toothpicks. Owl Pellets The results were mixed. Some of the pellets were extremely hard to get started. We tried spraying down with a little water (I’d read online that helps), but all it seemed to do was make the room smell like wet dog…er, owl. Which, is actually worse than dog. A whole lot worse. The smell bothered some more than others, there may have been gagging and threats of throw-up, eventually we all pretty much got used to it. There were some seriously intense searches to get back to. It’s incredible how many tiny bones there are in a pellet that’s only about an inch long. Owl Pellets With some persistence, the pellets finally broke apart pretty well and the exclamations began of who’d found what. The skulls were by far everyone’s favorite discovery! Allow yourself at least an hour to fully dissect your pellets and examine/compare the bones. Your patience will be rewarded. That is, if you think disgusting looking vomited old rodent bones are rewarding. I even located and identified an intact tail. Ewww gross. Owl Pellets Here are some resources for you if you plan on doing an owl pellet dissection lab. In addition to these printables, I picked up a few owl resources from the library, and one of our friends brought over a super cool book that played various owl calls.
An Owl Brand Discovery Student Lab Workbook — This is the printable I used. I printed one booklet for each kid at our local library (hooray for free printing!).
Teacher Notes and Instructions — I used this too.
Bone Sorting Chart — The pellets we ordered came with a chart, but only one. I printed copies of this for each student.

A couple more I didn’t end up using, but may work better for you/your classroom/kids: A Younger student Worksheet and Lab from The Crafty Classroom
Super Teacher Worksheets Owl Pellet Dissection Worksheets — Multiple options, some require Super Teacher membership.
Fact Sheet and Measurement Table

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