Owl Pellet Dissection

One of the wonderful things about being a parent is that you get a chance to do ALL of those projects that you wanted to do as a kid. For me, one of those projects was dissecting owl pellets.

Of course, you could go out to the woods and search for owl pellets, but that might take a while, especially if you don’t know where to look. It’s much easier and faster just to order them online. We got ours here.

See-through plastic bag with booklet called

So what is an owl pellet?

An owl pellet is a mass of feathers and bones that an owl is unable to digest. When the pellet gets to a certain size, the bird regurgitates it onto the ground.  From there, curious people can collect them in order to tease apart and figure out what the owl has eaten.

My kiddos and I had a great time taking these owl pellets apart. It was so much fun to see and imagine what the owl had eaten. Now, in case you’re wondering, all of our pellets have been autoclaved (i.e sterilized) so there are no pathogens.

The kit also includes a booklet which helps you identify the animals the owl has eaten.

And tweezers to carefully pick out the bones. 

What did the owl eat?

Once the bones have been pulled out of the pellet, the next step is to determine what animal or animals you have in front of you. This is a great opportunity to compare and contrast bone type sizes and structures and to notice small differences in them in order to determine the species.

My older son and I decided it would be fun to try to reconstruct a mouse, so on a sturdy piece of white construction paper we layed out the bones and labeled them in ink, referring to the booklet whenever we got stuck. 

Here’s our completed skeleton which we glued to the paper using ordinary school glue.

This project is great for anyone who is looking for low cost, hands-on science projects to do with their kids, especially homeschoolers or anyone learning from home due to the pandemic.

If you’ve ever dissected owl pellets, I’d love to hear what you found. 

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