Owl Pellets

Robles, M. Elena Kenwood Academy
5015 S. Blackstone
Chicago, Il. 60615

Objective 1. Discover and mount the contents of an owl pellet. 2. Relate the owls' eating habits with other animals (snake, cow, human). 3. Relate the contents of the owl pellet to the human skeletal system. 4. Discuss the food web, population control. Materials (per lab group) owl pellets forceps or toothpicks 3 dixie cups or beaker holepuncher scissors handouts hydrogen peroxide(optional) a. bone sorting chart paper (white) b. skeletal mounting water c. bone identification glue d. procedure precut cardboard template e. homework bleach (diluted) f. key of skulls various skeleton models placemat (tray or paper) metric ruler 1 liter bottle overhead projector plastic owl Procedure Soak 1 liter bottle in hot water to remove label and base (this can be done at home). Cut bottle just below neck so that it fits snugly inverted in the base. Test cardboard for proper fit inside the bottle. Place owl pellet on the placemat. Gently separate bones from fur (soak in hydrogen peroxide for one minute if pellet is too dry). Place bones on bone sorting chart (make sure you have double of each bone, and one skull). Get teacher's approval. Soak bones in diluted bleach to clean and whiten the bones (soak only three minutes). Get skeleton layout sheet. Arrange bones on layout sheet. Get teacher's approval. Transfer bone layout onto cardboard. Get teacher's approval. Glue bones to cardboard. Use holepuncher to get circles for labeling of bones. Glue labels to cardboard near bones. Cut white paper to fit backside of cardboard (to be used as key for display). Make key for bone display using the bone identification handout. Glue key to cardboard. Place completed bone display into inverted 1 liter bottle which rests on the original bottle base. Hand in for grading. Recommended Strategy Begin the lesson by talking about the owl characteristics and its habits. Pass out the owl pellets and discuss the physical characteristics of the pellet. The students will be asked to measure their pellet and data will then be compared. Have the students gently pull apart the pellet. Students will share discovered contents from the owl pellet with the class, through a visual display on the overhead projector. By comparing the number and types of skulls found in each pellet the class will follow into a discussion on the food web and population control. The students will be able to identify their specimen by measuring and using the "key of skulls" handout. Continue the owl pellet project by following the above procedure. NOTE: This project may take five to seven classes to complete. SOURCES:a. Mark Wagner, Kenwood Academy b. Creative Dimensions P.O.Box 1393 Bellingham, Washington 98227 OWL PELLET OBSERVATION 1. MEASURE THE OWL PELLET (IN MILLIMETERS) a.LENGTH OF THE PELLET ___________mm b.DIAMETER OF THE PELLET _________mm 2. IDENTIFY AT LEAST THREE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PELLETS - SMELL, COLOR, TEXTURE, ETC. 1. 2. 3. 3. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS INSIDE OF THE PELLET? 4. IN WHICH PART OF THE OWL DOES THE PELLET FORM? 5. WHY DOES THIS PELLET FORM? 6. AFTER OPENING THE OWL PELLET WHAT INFORMATION WAS ATTAINED? 7. WRITE DOWN ONE QUESTION THAT YOU WOULD LIKE ANSWERED BY THE END OF THE OWL PROJECT.
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