Thursday, November 7, 2013

Owls, Owls, Owls...(And a Merlin!)

We have been wrapping up our unit on owls this past week. First we had an in-school field trip from OWL Rehabilitation Society who came to teach us more about how we can help birds when they get hurt. OWL works exclusively with raptors and we got to learn some really interesting facts.

Then, we got to meet two of the rescued birds! These two had injuries that kept them from being rehabilitated into the wild. So, they have been glove trained to help spread the word about taking care of our wildlife.

First we met, Tyra. She is a Merlin (which is a kind of falcon). She had a broken wing when she was found and it didn't grow back properly. As a result, one wing is shorter than the other. Here she is with the OWL worker.

Then we met Alba, a barn owl, who also had a broken wing. She was hurt when she fell from the rafters of a barn all the way to floor. She is unable to fly more than a foot or so.

Meeting the two birds was really cool. But, it was really hard for the 50 kids to be as still and quiet as they needed to be in order to not frighten the birds. What can I say? It's not like I haven't mentioned the chattiness of my group before!

Our final owl activity (before the assessment quiz, that is!) was to dissect owl pellets. We did that today. It was at times very cool (and, at other times, not so much!). Students worked in partners to take apart the pellets (using rubber gloves and toothpicks) and try to figure out what kind of animal the owl had eaten. Some pellets had tons of bones while others not so much. I was amazed at how small the skulls found in the pellets were. And some of the bones were no more than a half a centimetre in length. Wow!

Anywho, here are a few photos. It was really hard to get up close pictures of the bones since they were so, so, so small. But you can see a pile of them on the plate. And one of the girls is holding a rodent skull in her hand. The last photo shows the bone guide we gave the students. Some got really into it and started to sort the bones onto the paper. It was really great to see a few partnerships so involved and interested in learning about the pellets. Scientists in the making!

And, that's all for me tonight. I'm still really tired (after being sick last week) and even though it is only 7:30 it is off to the bath and then bed for me!!!!


Ms. Hughes

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