All about owl puke, with pictures.

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.

This entry was posted in experiments, five in a row, loot, science and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to All about owl puke, with pictures.

  1. I laughed aloud at “Thank you for that safety message.” And the soundtrack is edifying.

  2. Zelda says:

    That looks like a load of fun. I seriously want to come over and sit in on your classes.

  3. Bill G. says:

    That was great. I had never learned about owl pellets before this.

  4. Ailbhe says:

    “Owulls, as you may knoooow,” was where I lost it. I love The Phone Voice or The Performing Voice.

  5. tinderbox says:

    Ailbhe, yes, I love the voice. And the “as you may know.”

  6. Ailbhe says:

    Five going on forty-five with a bit of just-past-four thrown in. AWESOME ALEX. I love her so much.

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