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Fairview students study ecosystems through owl regurgitations


Posted Date: 12/09/2020

Fairview students study ecosystems through owl regurgitations

COPPERAS COVE, TX (November 18, 2020)—How can you tell what an owl ate for dinner? You simply see what bones, fur and other things left after a meal in the owl’s regurgitation. 

“Owls eat a lot of different things,” student Erieyon McDowell said. “It was a little disgusting. But, it was also interesting all the things we found like a rodent head, bird skull, ribs, legs, and claws.” 

Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary students in teacher Charlene Rogers’ fifth grade science class enjoyed a fun and interactive learning experience while studying the owl food chain. 

“We find out what the owl ate by going through the pellets to find the bones and things in it that the owl cannot digest in its stomach,” said student Brandon Webster. “We were trying to find bones using toothpicks to go through the pellet.”

Items such as bones and fur of the owl’s prey were just two of the remains students found from the owl’s meal that coughed up as a pellet. The synthetic, fabricated pellets come in kits and provide students with the same experience as investigating real owl pellets but without the germs and probable smell that may occur with real owl pellets found in the wild. Each one includes replica skull and bones that when assembled will form a complete bird, mole, or rodent skeleton. 

“We found rodent jaws, skulls, claws and leg bones using the toothpicks to find them in the poop like stuff,” Gabe Distefano said. 

“It was very hard to break apart the ball of stuff with the toothpicks, so we decide to use our hands instead,” student Cade Terry said. “The teeth were yellow and still on the jawbone and the bones were still really sharp.”

The female students in class were also eager to check out all the remains they could find and match them to the bone-sorting chart to determine from which kind of rodent they came. 

“It was actually very interesting and disgusting, all at the same time,” student Emily French said. “We found teeth, bones, bird heads and hair along with a front leg and a jaw (bone) with teeth that came from a mole.” 

Rogers said the students more strongly relate to and retain the information they are learning about when more of their senses are involved in the process.   

“The owl makes a perfect specimen for students to have a hands-on scientific experience for studying ecosystems and food chains,” Rogers said. “The fact that they can reassemble the bones after taking apart the synthetic pellets using their tools of tweezers, wooden probes, or toothpicks and a magnifying glass to form a complete skeleton makes this a beneficial learning experience.”

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Copperas Cove Independent School District
408 S. Main Street
COPPERAS COVE, Texas 76522
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Phone: 254-547-1227