Dissecting Owl Pellets

Nothing says fun… like dissecting owl pellets…

Pellets are the undigestible remains of the food eaten by the Common Barn Owl, which are regurgitated as a compact mass of hair, bones, teeth, claws, bird’s beaks, and insect remains.

Colson’s third grade class has been studying birds in science so we decided to let the boys and a couple buddies dissect owl pellets tonight.  Our “all boy” dinner conversation (Laura spent the night at a friend’s tonight and Lydia is no help because she thinks they are hilarious) teetered on the edge of bodily-function-talk all throughout.  So–we followed the main course with owl pellet dissection.

I’ll admit that I started out pretty tenuous…but it was actually very very interesting.

The boys starting the dissection…
The pellets are compact masses of hair and bones…a hunt for hidden “treasures”

Finding several vole bones

We found many claws and femur bones

I made them wear gloves…yuck.

Several more radius/ulna bones.

A better look at an owl pellet before dissection

Cavan found a whole shrew skull

The shrew skull

Right before the “bone trading” began…

“I’ll trade you my claw for your mandible”

I love having boys!
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  1. i remember doing this in 6th grade! you are such a cool mom!!!

  2. But do you remember the worms in
    7th grade??? I’m not ready for that yet :)

  3. LOLLL Very cool! Where do you even GET those pellets???

  4. From my owl.

  5. But seriously–you can find them online or at the Bird Store downtown. We gave them to the boys in their stockings at Christmas.

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