Have you ever wondered what happens when an owl eats it’s food? Or what exactly is in owl barf? Ok, honestly this is the last thing on my mind but we had to think about these and many more question during our homeschool class on owl pellets.
What are Owl Pellets or Owl barf? It is what the owl regurgitates after the soft tissue (meat) has been digested. Owls and other birds can’t chew their food because they don’t have teeth. Therefore they use their sharp long beaks to pull apart their prey and swallow it whole. The owl slowly digests the softer material (such as meat) and separates the harder material (bones, feather and fur). It then regurgitates the harder material along with indigestible items such as feathers and fur in the form of a pellet.
It all began with a furry ball that looked like a small grey egg. The instructor gave each child an owl pellet, wrapped in tin foil, paper plate, tweezers, and a diagram off the six animals that a barn owl might have eaten. Kids began by very carefully pulling apart their pellets and separating the bones from the fur and feathers. We found (even though it was gross) that the best way to get the fur off the bones was using your fingers. It was neat to see the skeletons, skulls, and what animal each owl ate. Many of the kids had more than one animal intertwined in their pallets. After all the kids were done digesting and pulling apart their grey egg we tallied up what owl ate:
- Rat – 5
- Vole – 15
- Mouse – 8
- Bird -15
- Shrew -18