Barn Owls are notoriously adorable. They are also super effective at keeping rodents and other pests under control. With a mix of homeschooling teens all way down to four years old, our group lessons look more like science and art had a baby. Mostly hands on, sometimes disgusting. What better way to learn about barn owls than to dig through their poop?
We jumped into a barn owl unit because it’s Fall and it felt like the perfect lead into the projects we’re going to be working on for the next month – Frankenstein, Pumpkins, Bats, etc.
I have to tell you… for complaining about how gross it was and how they didn’t want to do it, our kids sure dug right in!
What You’ll Need For Your Barn Owl Pellet Study Unit:
- Barn Owls by Melissa Hill
- Barn Owl Pellets (Poop) or … if you want the printable, Jerrett over at Owl Pellet Science will send you poo and the printables you see in these pictures. Honestly, they made it SO much more fun!
- Popsicle Sticks
- Protective Gloves
We also went with a table cover and worked outside, because… it’s poop.
First things first, this owl poop is weird. It’s smaller than it looks, but bigger than you’d think would be a product of a bird this size. I know, I know.
Second. It is literally a fur poop ball with bones inside. The hair from whatever they ate is caked to the outside of the pellet.
For the most part, the bones were all tucked inside.
You can see how our kiddos used the sticks to pull apart the pellets. Tweezers would be a great tool for pulling out the bones, but for breaking these apart, sticks are the way to go.
Skulls of birds, mice and other animals were in the pellets. Very few of them were intact. Out of six pellets, we had four skulls that you could clearly identify. The others were mostly pieces of jaw.
Seeing what each other was digging out of their poo pellet made it all the more fun. If someone found a piece that was easily identifiable on the sheet, there was a smidge of jealousy. We decided it would be a great idea to try to find pieces and complete a mouse.
We used the printable worksheet to try to piece together a mouse. Those bones are SO small. The ribs, toes, fingers are all so small that tweezers was the best way to go. Because we were outside, the paper kept trying to blow away on us because the bones literally weigh nothing.
If you’re planning on a Barn Owl study unit, I definitely recommend ordering in some pellets and dissecting them. Our kids were grossed out, but at the end of the day, they admitted it was interesting.