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Winter Nature Study at our ‘Wolery”, part III

February 9, 2007


Chers Amis,

I love Fridays.  Friday is our flexible day to catch up, branch out, and go deeper into our studies.   This morning the girls were anxious to get outside early, so once their chores were done they bundled up and headed out in the 33 degree weather into our tiny woods.  They had birds on their minds as they wandered down to the creek. Caddie spotted a strange grey lump of fur or dung.  She noticed white claws protruding from the mass and knew it was the remains of an owl pellet.  Soon the woods reverberated with excited shrieks.  Our neighbors must think we are crazy.  How many children Owl_pellet_1think finding owl leftovers at 8:15 AM is a special treat?  Of, course the laundry was immediately  put on hold, the nature notebooks flew open, pencils were sharpened and the dissection began.

The girls noticed that unlike the pellet we received with the Owl Puke kit, this one was not neatly preserved and cylindrical. It had been sitting on the forest floor for a few days and was slightly flattened and pulled apart, revealing some of the delicate contents.  It was also much smaller.  They carefully pulled the pellet apart with toothpicks and tweezers and found the shell of a glossy pillbug (Geotrupes splendidas), white arms of a tiny crayfish,and the lower jaw and leg bones of a shrew. They also found minute claws that were so small you could hardly see them in the dark grey fur.  Other miscellanea included:  Caterpillar cases, ant pieces, and beetle legs.  The girls guessed that some of the smaller insect remains could have come from the shrew’s last meal.

We aren’t sure what kind of owl produced this morning’sOwl_pellet_scarlett surprise study,but it was liOwl_pellet_caddiekely an Eastern Screech Owl as their diet consists of large evening active insects, like moths and katydids, crayfish, earthworms, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, like mice,  shrews and bats, and small birds.  Both girls were so happy to see the metallic green shell as their last nature notebook entries was for the glossy pillbug.  How interesting to see the interconnections of nature study.

I think we are now done with our owl pellet study, but you never know what you’ll find at notre moulin.

— Marjorie

PS –Here is a really nice resource for owl pellet dissection from the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center
in Lanesboro, Minnesota.  (Sounds like a field trip opportunity M de Minn. 🙂  It has an excellent bone chart, a simple identification key, and a worksheet for recording your findings.

PSS – The ‘wolery’ is Owl’s home from Winnie the Pooh.  Owl thinks he is quite smart, but his spelling is a bit rusty (like mine:-) .  He spells his name WOL – thus WOLERY.  Here is a cute link to a Winnie the Pooh site on Wol – I mean Owl – and his library of links.

PPSS – In case you are in an owly mood and missed it, here is yet another owl pellet post with a delicious EDIBLE snack on the owl theme 🙂


3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2007 5:46 pm

    How gross! How cool!

  2. February 11, 2007 6:38 pm

    Your Fridays sound like more fun than ours! LOL I just showed this page to Katydid, who wanted to see the owl pellett and the notebook pages close up. Then she wanted to know where you lived, and if we could go meet you and your kids 😉

  3. February 12, 2007 2:43 am

    “How many children think finding owl leftovers at 8:15 AM is a special treat?”

    Mine would! We have also been fascinated with the ones we’ve found in the wild – more variety of contents like you mentioned. I know you said you are done, but have you seen the virtual owl pellet dissection here? –

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