We found something this past week we’ve never found before- an owl pellet. Owl pellets are the undigested remains of an owl’s dinner that it coughs up. Finding owl pellets in the wild can be tricky, but if you hear owls in your area, you should be able to find them.
Finding Owl Pellets
Owl pellets can be found underneath trees where owls roost. If you find one, you should keep checking the same area, because you’re likely to find another. Most owls produce one or two pellets a day, so if you can locate a roosting site, you may have more pellets then you know what to do with. We’ve gone back to the same place where we found the first pellet a few times and haven’t found more, so maybe this wasn’t a common roosting area.
Owl pellets are usually oblong hairy structures. You may see bits of bones sticking out.
Dissecting Owl Pellets
Dissecting an owl pellet is a fascinating and educational activity. If you pull one apart, you can find the skelatons of mice, rats, or other small rodents.
It is wise to wear gloves when handling owl pellets. You can put any bones you find in hydrogen peroxide to clean them so that you can better observe them.
We spent some time dissecting our owl pellet. It was interesting finding the different small bones. Whenever we felt a hard section in a bit of hair, we carefully pulled it apart to see what was inside. Tweezers would have really helped. I didn’t take very many pictures of this, but we ended up with many tiny bones.
It was fun to learn more about owls and what they eat through this hands-on activity. I don’t think my daughter will forget this experience. For another food chain activity, download my free nesting food chain printable. The printable includes an owl at the top of the food chain so it pairs well.
Books you May Enjoy
- Owl Pellet Teaching Tips
- Bone Chart (requires registration)
- Owl Pellet Kits
We learned about owl pellets in the September nature study several years ago, but up until now have not been able to find them. I love how even if we can’t find something right away, we can tuck the idea away in our brains for future use.
Could you see yourself doing this?
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