Saturday, February 16, 2008

Owl Pellet Dissection: Gross Fun!

O.K., so this post is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. :)

We're rowing Owl Moon this week and have been doing a little bit of owl pellet dissection each day.

Just a little F.Y.I., an owl pellet is material that this bird of prey regurgitates. The pellet contains the indigestible parts of the owl's prey (i.e. bones, fur, feathers).

You dissect the pellet with tweezers, pulling apart the feathers or fur, to find pieces of an animal skeleton, usually a bird or small rodent. In our pellet we found a small rodent skeleton, and actually two rodent skulls.

Our pellet came from a kit called Owl Puke, which I picked up at Barnes & Noble with my educator discount card. (I think I paid about $9.00 after the discount.) I highly recommend this kit because the sterilized owl pellet comes with a great book. There are also several online companies you can order sterilized pellets from.

Giggly Girl was game to try this from the get go.

Superman was a little bit unsure about the whole thing at first, but after about 5 minutes of dissecting, he was hooked.

Our kit and book contained a bone sorting chart and a chart for the different skeletons. You can also find some of these online for free:

Here is a good chart for identifying the different bones (You'll have to scroll down a bit to see it.)

Another chart for bone sorting along with some other owl info. (Scroll down to p. 13, 14, and 15.)

The kids and Kurt and I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. I have a feeling we'll be doing it again in the future. :)

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