Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dissecting Owl Pellets

Friday was the day many of the giraffes had been waiting for throughout our entire New Hampshire Animals unit, for it was the day we got to dissect real-life owl pellets! Owls, like most birds, eat their food whole because birds do not have teeth. So, when an owl catches its prey, it swallows it and later regurgitates (or spits up) the parts of the animal or insect they cannot digest, such as bones, fur, feathers, etc in the form of a pellet.

Prior to dissecting our pellets, we make predictions as to what kinds of things we would find in the pellet. These predictions included:
  • Bones from mice, rats, snakes, other birds, deer 
  • Fur
  • Feathers
  • Dirt
  • Grass
While we didn't find everything we had predicted in our pellets, we did find many of those things, especially bones! We used this bone identification key to help us figure out what exactly our owls had eaten:

After measuring our pellets in inches, everyone worked carefully to dissect  their pellets using their hands and toothpicks for the more delicate bones. We were amazed by what we were able to uncover! 

When we had finished dissecting our pellets, we identified which animal bones we found and counted  the total number of bones in our pellets. Some friends uncovered over 40 bones! We also talked about whether or not we thought the bones all came from one animal, and many of us inferred that we had pellets with bones from a few different animals because there were more than 1 skull in some and others included fur and feathers. 

We saw that the skulls had quite a variety of teeth in them. Ms. Riley made sure to tell us that the Tooth Fairy would NOT accept these teeth and to please not leave them under pillows for her to find :) 

This was a great way to wrap up our New Hampshire Animals unit! We would also like to extend a big thank you to our parent volunteer who shared in this awesome learning experience with us and who also helped us clean up the classroom once it was over! 

If you would like to join in on the fun, there is an awesome website you can visit where you can virtually dissect an owl pellet

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