"So you actually have owl poop?" Katie asks.
"Owl pellets," Anne corrects. "It comes out of the owl's mouth. Kinda like a cat's hairball."
"Well, how often do the owls have these pellets?" Donna wants to know.
You see, an owl swallows its prey--most often a rodent--whole. Then some cool chemistry science stuff happens in the owl's stomach and all the useful parts of the owl's meal are taken away leaving only the bones and hair of the rodent. So the owl ejects the unwanted parts back out of its mouth.
Anne lays an owl pellet on the table. It's about the size of an egg. She shows us how to carefully pull it apart with tweezers and separate out the skeleton of the rodent. There's the skull! There's the thigh bone! Here are some rodent ribs! They look like tiny fish bones. She has a template of a rodent skeleton so when we find a bone we can match it up and add it to the picture. Remember the old game Operation where you had to get all the bones out of the picture? This is the reverse. We have to find all the bones and put them back.
"I bet we can find it on YouTube," Jenn says. And so, a moment later, we are gathered around her laptop watching a baby owl. Even though we are expecting it, we still all scream when the pellet is ejected--so loud, in fact, that some other teachers rush into the room to see what is happening. They find us doubled over in tears with laughter.
Anne has a way of getting teachers excited about science. Anne loves science. We love Anne. Now we love science too. And owl pellets. Check it out for yourself: Baby Owl Ejects Pellet