There were massive toddler issues today, for values of “today” which unfortunately began at 2:30am. Nevertheless, with the help of caffeine we had another awesome science day studying Owl Moon. Tuesday we studied the moon, so today it was owls’ turn.
We spent some time at The Owl Pages, looking at pictures of Great Horned Owls and listening to their calls. I read bits and pieces from the site to Alex, who shared details she picked up from Owls in the Family in return. The last thing I read to her was about owl pellets. Owls usually swallow their prey whole, and they have to do something with the indigestible parts. So they compress the fur, bones, teeth, etc. into pellets and then throw them back up.
What happens to owl pellets then? Um… people like me buy them for their children.
What you get is a foil-wrapped lump of sterilized animal bits. We had plenty of grey fur, liberally studded with tiny bones. There were bits of straw and other debris in there as well. We had wooden picks for breaking the pellet apart, and quickly added a paintbrush for cleaning off the bones.
I was surprised by the number and the excellent condition of the bones. Alex found a top and bottom jaw, each with several unimaginably tiny teeth. We found leg bones with minuscule ball joints at the top. There were tiny little vertebrae, still connected. This picture size doesn’t do it justice – click through to see it larger. Really, the whole pellet dissection was much cooler than I anticipated.
While I was snapping away with the camera, Alex asked me to take a video. She explains owl pellets quite nicely, but I think that the greatest educational value of this video is that it gives an excellent picture of what it’s like to homeschool with a toddler in the house.