This week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge was owls. In addition to owls, there was a suggestion in the challenge to get out and do some bird watching. And let me tell you, I had *no* idea Jedi was so into bird watching, but he is. He was mesmorized by all of the different colors he saw on the birds and wanted to sit and watch them for a long time. His little sisters weren’t quite ready to watch for hours though. 😉 So, one fantastic thing we learn doing these challenges is that our children have some very wonderful nature interests that might never have been discovered if they spent their days perched (LOL) in front of the tv.
Our Owl challenge was done using a couple different parts. We went to our local arboretum to look at their display of stuffed owls (they were formerly alive and are now stuffed and on display). We also went bird watching in the arboretum’s bird watching area as well as on their Storybook trail. The third part to the challenge is listening to various owl calls. And the fourth part was dissecting owl pellets.
Part 1–The Owl exhibit
The kids really enjoyed getting to see the owls up close. We were able to compare the colors, feather patterns, and sizes between the various owls.
(Just a random chicken picture we saw at Jedi's occupational therapy appointment before we got to the arb)
One of the owls
Eastern Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl skull, egg, and talons
More talons and owl pellets
Great Horned Owl skull
Side view of a Great Horned Owl skull
Another owl...this one we got to touch. The feathers were incredibly soft and fluffy--not at all what I'd think that a bird would feel like!
I’ll post the birdwatching & nature hike pictures in the next post…there are a lot of them, but I want to keep all of the owl pictures in one place.
These were courtesy of our wonderful Ohio Department of Natural Resources. I contacted them inquiring about field guides and they sent me 12 different field guides for Ohio animals, birds, & fish, as well as 3 CDs. Today, we used the Owl field guide and owl sounds CD. It was amazing to hear all of the different calls...there were 3-6 calls for each of the 8 common native Ohio owls, 4 native rare Ohio owls, 7 owls from the rest of North America that aren't in Ohio, and 3 owls that have been seen in North America that aren't native. We learned that many of the owl sounds actually sound very similar to cats! We also learned that we've often heard the monotonic trill of the eastern screech owl and never realized that's what it was!
Owl Pellet dissection
When Bitty Bug was sleeping, Jedi, Monkey, and I dissected 3 owl pellets that we bought from a fantastic little science store in Columbus.
Owl Pellets. They are remarkably light. They look like they would have a bit of mass to them, but they are very very light! I explained to the kids about how owls eat their prey whole, and then their special stomachs regurgitate the undigestable parts several hours later. The owl then "coughs" up the pellet.
We learned in our guide that the white stuff on the pellets is actually bird feces (go figure...) since the pellets often sit on the floors of barns that have many owls living in them. We also learned that outside of barns, pellets don't last very long because rain, wind, or other animals destroy them.
Jedi & Monkey dissecting their pellets. They are actually very tightly balled bundles of hair & fur, with some small feathers stuck in. Interwoven in the pellets are various bones & teeth.
The horsefly that kept irritating us while we were working!
The results of our dissection...we learned that our 3 owls ate 3-4 mice, 1 shrew, and 1 mole. Hungry little things, eh?