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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Ups and Downs of Owl Pellets

Great pun, eh?!

When we purchased the KONOS "attentiveness" kit, which includes a unit on birds, one big reason was that the kit contains an Owl Pellet Dissection Kit (which, it turns out, are available on Amazon!). Tom has always been fascinated with owls, and of course owl pellets contain all the "left-over" materials not digested by the bird after it gobbles its prey (eg bones, fur, etc.). We thought dissecting a pellet would be a great activity - not only because it's bird-related, but because it really builds those beginning science skills of observation and manipulation of tools.

It turned out the owl pellet was a hit - but the dissecting tools were too much for Tom at this point. That's because his fine motor skills are somewhat delayed (part of the autism, I suppose) - so that holding the pellet with pincers and then pulling it apart was tough. As a result, it was up to Dad to actually "unpack" the pellet and place it, on white paper, under a folding desktop magnifying glass.

Under the glass, Tom was intrigued to find bits and pieces of a real mouse skeleton (though his sister was completely grossed out!). We also found a huge amount of mouse fur, and other miscellaneous jetsam. Evidently, Tom was already versed in owl digestion (who knew? it was probably in a video or TV show he saw) - because he was immediately able to explain what he was looking at, why it was in the pellet, and how owls eat and then excrete their leavings.


Anonymous said...

Lisa -- you and Tommy might be interested in this site:

It's a daily post but not one where if you miss a day you lose out. There's LOTS of observations about birds and nature... and (finally), the "Timothy" that gets mentioned every so often is a tortoise that kept the author company for decades.

Frogs' mom said...

I don't know if I'm ready for Owl Pellets, but I am enjoying your blog!

You've received an award at Frog's School. Please stop by and pick it up :0)

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

Thanks so much, Frog's Mom! I will check it out!