Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Biologists

You just never know what you'll find around here. This evening, while playing in the yard and water, the kids found owl pellets. They were in T.S.'s "field"--the area around the tree stumps that will someday be a flower bed. The kids were way excited to find it.

We have an owl that lives in the old house next to ours. You can hear it screeching at night. We think the owl must have perched in a tree in our yard. They used the tongs to pick the pellets up and put it in the plastic bag. You really shouldn't touch owl pellets as they can be pretty nasty.

For those of you who don't know, owls eat their prey whole--feathers, bones, skin and all. The parts that are indigestible are later regurgitated in the form of a pellet. We identified a rat skull, jaw bone and leg bone just by glancing at ours. Biologists can study owl pellets to determine what small animals, birds and rodents are in an area. I used them when I taught 5-6th grade science to learn about the food chain. The pellets used in class are bought from biological supply companies and have been sterilized. We could sterilize ours (so we could tear it apart and see what all the owl ate) by baking it in the oven--but that would make the house stink.

Okay, so those of you who know me know I just couldn't leave it at that. Here is a WAY COOL site to go to. You can do a virtual dissection of an owl pellet and really see what I have tried to explain. Way cool site for science teachers because it has all kinds of information on birds--the different types of feathers, etc. It even has quizzes to take after you have read the info.
Class dismissed.


April said...

very cool!
I am so glad your kids have you to share life with them! How fun is playing biologist.
love you all,

Jennifer said...

always a science lesson...