L5: Owl Pellet Lab

Lesson 5: Owl Pellets (Junior and Senior Human Anatomy and Physiology)

In this lab activity, students will be dissecting and investigating owl pellets.  As an introduction, I will explain what exactly an owl pellet is.  Some birds like owls eat their prey whole.  They cannot, however, digest a lot of the material of the prey such as fur and bones.  These indigestible parts are compacted and regurgitated in the form of a pellet.  IT IS NOT FECES.   Each pellet is completely sanitary and can be touched with bare hands, though gloves are provided for the squeamish.   Because owl’s produce pellets only after eating, in each pellet should be the bones of at least one type of prey.

The students task will be to dissect the pellets and identify all the bones they find.  The class will be split into pairs and each pair given one pellet.  They will compare the bones they find with handouts showing the bones of common owl prey such as mice, shrews, small birds, etc.  It is very possible for there to be two skeletons in one pellet and the students should be prepared for this.  Once the students have identified all the bones and the species, they should carefully clean them (with water spray bottles) and then glue them in the appropriate formation onto construction paper so that an outside viewer could see the whole skeleton of the animal.  This skeleton should be appropriately labeled as well.

Once each group has completed the task, they will share their results with the class and we will see which animals show up the most.

Published on December 4, 2008 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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