Peter.D.Riley

International bestselling award-winning author Facebook Twitter

Taking science education across the world

Our future depends on exploring all the frontiers of science, on innovative technologies based on these explorations and on the development of scientific literacy in all peoples through science education.

Owl Pellet Dissection

One of my granddaughters, Tabitha, has read every Harry Potter book at least three times and thinks owls are the best birds ever! Her class have been studying animals in their habitats so I thought we could enrich their work on food chains with owl pellet dissections.

My granddaughter and myself

My granddaughter and myself

I obtained the owl pellets from the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary who also provide advice on dissection and identification charts.

What is an owl pellet?

When an owl catches its food, such as a mouse, it swallows its food whole. In the digestive system the fleshy parts of the food are broken down and absorbed into the body but the less digestible material – bones and fur – are not. They are wrapped up into a pellet and released through the body back through the mouth and beak.

How are owl pellets useful in the curriculum?

They are particularly useful in work on food chains as they can show what the owl has been eating.

How is the dissection made?

The children used eye brow tweezers and cocktail sticks to separate the items in the pellets.

The children used tweezers and cocktail sticks to separate the items

The children used tweezers and cocktail sticks to separate the items

Separating the contents

Separating the contents

Pellet contents

Pellet contents

The children used the identification charts to find out what the owls had been eating

The children used the identification charts to find out what the owls had been eating

They placed the bones on the pictures to find a match

They placed the bones on the pictures to find a match

What did the owl pellets contain?

Evidence from the pellets showed that most of the owls had been feeding on mice but one had eaten a shrew. This was confirmed when the lower jaw bones of the shrew were found with its red capped, crocodile- like teeth!



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