January 26

Owl Pellets

Third grade biologists dissected sterilized barn owl pellets as part of their unit on vertebrates. Owls eat their prey whole. Since birds don’t have teeth, they can’t chew their food. The owl slowly digests its meal by separating the softer materials, such as meat, from the harder materials, such as bones. It then regurgitates the bones along with indigestible items, like feathers and fur, in a pellet.

We used a bone identification key to identify the bones we found. Animal skeletons found in the pellets included mice, rats, shrew, voles, moles, and birds. We discovered that the animal bones have the same names as those in our bodies, such as femur, scapula, clavicle, rib, skull, and mandible.

Click here to learn how to dissect a pellet.
Click here to learn more about owl pellets.

In their homeroom classes this week, third graders were asked to revise a sentence about an owl pellet. Vocabulary development is an essential component of reading comprehension.

Fourth graders read Poppy by acclaimed Newbery-winning author Avi. The story is an animal adventure about an owl who rules Dimwood Forest. Children understand passages like the one following because they dissect owl pellets in third grade.

“…she glanced at the base of Mr. Ocax’s tree. There lay what appeared to be a mound of pebbles. Gradually a ghastly realization came over her. What she was seeing was a mound of Mr. Ocax’s upchucked pellets, the closely packed and undigested bits of fur and bone from his dinners. The vision made her blood turn cold.”


January 26

Silent Flight

“Owls are known as silent predators of the night, capable of flying just inches from their prey without being detected. The quietness of their flight is owed to their specialized feathers.” Click here to read more and to watch a video about silent flight.

Click here to learn more about silent flight. My third grade biologists found this very interesting.

Then I presented a simple demonstration. When I swung the nylon rope, the children could hear a whooshing sound, but when I swung the frayed rope, there was no sound. Why?

The definition of biomimicry is the act of using creation as a model for human inventions. Who would want to develop silent flight?