What is an Owl Pellet?

When Blue Ridge Discovery Center brings this program to the fourth-grade students of Grayson County, they always ask, "What is an Owl Pellet". We are always excited to share what it is! Of course, after we describe what it is, there is unanimous, "Ewh, gross", and the gag reflex response. We hand out the little foil packs to each student and tell them we are going to dissect it and see what we can find inside. This really sends them through the roof! But it never fails that every student digs into that pellet with gusto. The clamor around the room is wonderful as they exclaim, "Look what I found!", "What is this from?", and "I see teeth!" The Barn owl swallows their food whole, so it is not uncommon to find entire skeletons within the pellets.

In this program, students identify an owl pellet's contents and practice recording and analyzing the data. They are all given tools for use during dissection and a bone identification chart to help determine the species of animal consumed. This aids in the understanding of the food chain of birds of prey, the Barn owl in particular. It shows the relationship between producers (plants) and consumers (animals that eat the plants or that eat other animals). This hands-on program brings scientific investigation into the classroom!