March 2 Owl Pellet

Last week, under Amelie’s Sit Spot tree, we found an owl pellet! It was a small gray lump about the size of a large grape. If you aren’t already familiar with the concept, predatory birds cough up pellets consisting of the parts of their prey they cannot digest. Waste also passes through them, but is a soft consistency (what you think of as bird poop!) and doesn’t contain any solids like bones or fur the way mammal scat does. So, dissecting an owl pellet is an easy way to find out what the bird was eating. In the picture below, the gray stuff is fur and you can see a few bones lined up–a pelvis, jawbone, and a partial skull. Some kind of small mammal like a mouse, shrew, or vole! The kids were fascinated to watch me dissect this, and Gemma went at it afterwards with a pair of gloves and the tweezers.

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I remember dissecting owl pellets myself as a third grader. Incredibly fascinating! 

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