Raptors of the Night-Owls: Summer Series #5


As much as we tried over the past few months to observe an owl up close, we just were not able to make it happen this time around. We are hoping to at least hear some owls when we go on our next camping trip to Yosemite National Park in a few weeks. We heard Western screech owls last year. Don’t you think they sound like bouncing rubber balls?

We listened to Western Screech Owls, Great Horned Owls, and Spotted Owls online as part of this challenge. We rarely see owls but we do hear them frequently in our part of the world.

We took the challenge to dissect an owl pellet. One of my sons was eager and the other one was not so eager to complete this activity. The mood changed once we got started and they each ended up learning quite a bit about owls from this activity.

Owl Pellet Dissection
(Maybe we should have found some smaller gloves.)

We each had our own pellet to dissect and I decided I am not very good at this sort of thing. I am not a “detail” sort of person so this was a frustrating activity. In the end, I let the boys finish my pellet. The boys on the other hand were awesome at this activity. I was amazed at the minute bones they were able to extract from the mass of fur.

Tiny Skulls
We all think we had mole and mouse bones in our pellets and we each found skulls and jaws with teeth.

Jaw with Teeth
Now that was interesting to me! Little tiny jaws with tiny little teeth!

Bone Chart and Bones
There were amazing amounts of bones in each little pellet.

Bone Chart and Bones 2
Although this was not a challenge where we were able to see the owls in person or even hear them in the night, we learned so much from our reading, online research, and the dissection. We are all looking forward to being on the lookout for both hearing the owls and seeing owl pellets during nature walks.

“Owls and hawks are predators that have an ecological relationship with each other. This means that whereas owls hunt predominantly at night, hawks fill their niche during the day. Both birds hunt similar prey species.”
Discover Nature at Sundown, page 49.

Just one interesting thing we have been thinking about: There is a cycle of raptor activity-owls at night and other raptors like hawks and falcons during the day. There is always some sort of raptor activity going on in the woods. Fascinating.

Whose-Awake-Me-Too…..hopefully we hear a little of that call on our camping trip this time.

Comments

  1. Just curious… where did you get that bone sorting chart?
    A friend of mine loaned me an animal skull, but I don’t know what it is and would like a guide to figure it out (and other bones if we come into them).

  2. It is in the original owl post but I will share it here too:

    http://www.biologycorner.com/resources/Owl_Pellet_Bone_Chart_grid.pdf

    Barb

  3. What fun! We haven’t managed the challenge yet – though we have some owls in our canyon, hoo-hooting late at night, and last year we dissected owl pellets with our co-op group (I confess, it made me feel queasy, and I’m not usually that type!)…
    We are headed to Yosemite in a few weeks too – we’ll wave as we pass by!

  4. We hear Barred Owls almost every night when we keep our windows open. We’ve done the owl pellet activity a few times and it was a big hit.

    Samantha

  5. We did a study about screech owls in November 2014. I also included a look back on owl pellet dissection that Sophia and Olivia did at a local nature center and at home. Here’s what we did: http://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/2014/11/screech-owl-outdoor-hour-challenge.html

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