In today’s lesson, students learned about the wonderful world of owls! These raptors, or birds of prey, come in all shapes and sizes and have a few adaptations that make them excellent hunters. One adaptation is that they have amazing eyesight that allows them to see in the dark from far distances, making nocturnal hunting easier. They also have keen hearing, which is amplified by a cone of feathers that surrounds their face. Owl ear openings are unevenly located in their skulls allowing them to precisely locate prey in the dark and owl feathers are designed to make virtually no sound when they fly, which allows them to sneak up on their prey.

When owls eat their prey, they swallow the whole body instead of chewing it like we do because they have no teeth. The nutritious parts of their catch are digested while the indigestible parts like bones and fur are compressed into a pellet, which is regurgitated by the owl when it is ready to eat again. In our activity today, the students had an opportunity to dissect an owl pellet and examine the bones and fur inside. Students were surprised at how thin and delicate the animal bones were and had to work carefully to clean them without damage. Students were able to identify what prey animal the skull belonged to by observing its characteristics on a skull identification chart. They also identified other bones in their pellet by matching them to a skeleton chart.  Ask your student what kind of prey their owl had that day!

Additional Information:

Want to dissect an owl pellet for yourself? You can perform a virtual dissection by going here.


En la lección de hoy, los estudiantes aprendieron sobre el maravilloso mundo de los búhos. Estas aves rapaces o de rapiña, se hallan en diversas formas y tamaños y se han adaptado de tal forma que son excelentes cazadoras. Una de las adaptaciones de los búhos es que poseen una visión nocturna espectacular y además pueden ver a larga distancia; por lo tanto les es muy fácil cazar de noche. También tienen un oído muy agudo, su audición es amplificada por las plumas en forma de cono que tienen alrededor su cara. Los conductos auditivos se ubican de manera asimétrica en el cráneo, lo que les permite detectar su presa de manera muy precisa en la oscuridad.  Además, las plumas de los búhos están diseñadas para no emitir sonido cuando vuelan, lo que les permite acercarse sigilosamente a su presa.

Las partes nutritivas de sus capturas son digeridas, mientras que las partes no digeribles como los huesos y la piel son comprimidos en un pellet que luego es regurgitado cuando el búho está listo para comer de nuevo. Cuando los búhos se comen su presa, se tragan el cuerpo completo en vez de masticarlo, como lo haríamos nosotros, porque no tienen dientes. En la actividad de hoy, los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de disecar un pellet y examinar los huesos y la piel contenidos en su interior. Los estudiantes se sorprendieron con lo delgados y delicados que eran los huesos de los animales, dado que tuvieron que ser muy cuidadosos mientras los limpiaban para no dañarlos. Pudieron identificar qué animal era la presa usando su cráneo y comparándolo con una tabla de identificación. También identificaron otros huesos presentes en el pellet. ¡Pregúntele a su hijo o hija que tipo de presa capturó el búho ese día!

Información adicional:

¿Quiere disecar un pellet de búho Usted mismo? Puede realizar una disección virtual en el siguiente sitio web: http://www.kidwings.com/owlpellets/flash/v4/index.htm


Does your child enjoy our visits? Please consider supporting our program so we can reach more students!




Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.