STEAM Connections: Do Owls Poop?

For our next STEAM Connections Take It & Make It , we’re dissecting an owl pellet!

Things like bones, fur, teeth and feathers cannot be digested by owls, and these indigestible bits are compressed into a pellet, which is regurgitated before their next meal.

We can learn a lot about owls by dissecting their pellets. Bones are expelled intact, so you can identify exactly what an owl ate for their last meal. These owl pellets have been heat treated and are completely sterile.

Download our printable handout and bone sorting chart here:


STEAM Connections

Science: Biology – bird anatomy, animal adaptations

Supplies

• 1 owl pellet
• 1 bone chart
• 1 bone sorting map
• Gloves (optional)
• Various tools such as tweezers, small brushes, toothpicks, magnifying glass (or camera with zoom) to separate and examine the items in the pellet


Instructions

  1. Take a moment to explore your pellet. What does it look like? What color is it? How long is your pellet? What do you think the owl that made this pellet ate?
  2. Use your stick to break apart your pellet and begin to pull out the different bones that are inside it
  3. Use the owl pellet bone chart to identify the different types of bones that you found in your pellet

Review

We can learn a lot about owls by dissecting their pellets. Bones are expelled intact, so you can identify exactly what an owl ate for their last meal.

Fossilized owl pellets have been used by paleontologists to identify the food eaten by the extinct great barn owl. These owls were five feet tall and had a twelve foot wingspan! Our owls were not quite that size, but we can still dig in and see what he last ate!

What kind of food do you think your owl ate?

Where do you think this owl lived?

What kinds of bones did you find the most of in the pellet?

Can you reassemble the skeleton of the animal this owl ate?


Books to Explore

Use your library card to checkout more books or download eBooks and continue learning and exploring:

Otis the Owl by Mary Holland

Request


Owls by Laura Marsh

Request


Owls! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence
Pringle

Request


Looking for more hands-on experiments? Check out our STEAM Connections video playlist on the Plano Public Library YouTube channel.

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