WAJ Science Club Students worked to dissect owl pellets at a recent program conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Furthering their knowledge of food webs and digestive systems, students took part in exciting activities designed to help them learn about the complexities of the food web. The program was funded by the Windham Foundation.
Students spent the afternoon doing hands on projects based around the roles of producers and consumers in our ecosystem. Owl pellets, which consist of the indigestible remains of the owls prey, were dissected by all 14 students as well as the parent volunteers. Prior to dissection the students made hypotheses about the animals that might make up the food web of a barn owl. For the most part, they were spot on, using bone charts the students identified a variety of animals the owls had consumed. These included voles, mice, and even small birds.
While performing their dissection the program’s participants were able to enjoy live bird cams courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (The public can access these live video feeds at http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/.) The WAJ Science club members were lucky enough to witness one of the barn owls preening its feathers during a brief break in its afternoon slumber. Students left the program with a great deal of excitement and a better understanding of how energy flows through plants and animals. The WAJ Science Club would not be possible without the generous financial support of The Windham Foundation. This five part series will continue each month until June. In March the students will cover topics related to bird migration.