Friday, January 8, 2010

Getting a Little Owly

Today, we took a break from our regularly scheduled science curriculum to get a little owly.

First, we read this great book about owls:

All About Owls by Jim Arnosky is a great introductory book about owls.  It gives clear, concise information about owls.  The illustrations are engaging and accurate.  It's written so that it appealed to all my kids -- ages 3 to 12 (and I enjoyed it, too).

After reading the book, we had a great discussion about owls we've seen and heard around our homestead and in the area before getting to the really good stuff!  The three oldest boys dissected owl pellets. 

This is what Josiah's owl pellet looked like when he first began to carefully peel away the fur, feathers, and vegetable matter:

Joey took apart his pellet very carefully and methodically.  He first found a mouse skull and then began to get excited when another skull seemed to be emerging.

Joey uncovered a mouse and a small bird.  He theorized that perhaps this owl had raided a bird nest and eaten a baby bird or two.  Besides the skulls, he found a very interesting collection of bones!

Elijah loved taking apart the pellet.  True to his nature, he found joy in every moment of the process.

He was so thrilled to find not one -- but two!! -- mouse skeletons inside his pellet.  Here are a few pieces including the skulls:

It was interesting to see that the mice had orangish teeth like a beavers.

Noah dug right into his pellet...

...and found a fairly large bird!  Here's the bird's skull:

It was exciting when he found the bird's clavicle ("wishbone") intact.  Since I'd made chicken soup, I had a chicken's clavicle set aside for wishing, so we were able to compare sizes.

Lilli enjoyed the book very much and would have liked to dissect her own pellet.  It was a grave oversight on Mom's part not to have gotten her one.  She did enjoy watching her brothers dissect pellets and kept herself busy practicing letters in a sand tray while they worked.  Matthias was napping while we did this activity, or he would have been happily flinging sand everywhere!

The boys all thought this was a really fun and interesting activity, and the bones of the prey have been carefully saved in a small tin for further study.  Tomorrow, we'll spend some time looking up more information on owls, and the boys will each get to choose whether they'd like to write a report or make a poster detailing what they've learned.  I printed out 2010 calendars for them that feature pictures of twelve different owls from 2010 "Hooters" Calendar, and we're going to use the pictures to make a set of laminated owl cards that we can use to practice identification and to play games to help us remember the different varieties of owls. 

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