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By Staff | Feb 20, 2008

Kayla Stubbs and Caitlyn Gobel poked through their owl pellet carefully. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

So what on earth would possess a bunch of third-graders to poke through a dried glob of owl vomit?

Because it’s fun!

Actually, it’s educational, too.

Third-grade students studied owl pellets (the clinical name for owl vomit) during their raptor sessions Tuesday. Under the very knowledgeable guidance of teachers Mrs. Jackie Thoreson and Mrs. Lois Fraser, the students learned that by studying these curiosities of nature, they can learn what an owl had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner …

Other birds!

A close-up of an owl pellet can tell a studious observer what the bird ate.

As raptors, owls are predators that prey on other creatures, many of which are their smaller furry cousins. Owl pellets are in fact the undigestible remains of other birds, including bone and feathers. The owl regurgitates the pellet six to eight hours after eating a meal.

Mrs. Thoreson said an owl pellet can tell you what an owl ate for lunch. While people regurgitate too, owls do it every day. While the pellets are initially a little slimy, the ones the third-graders poked through were dried.

Just like CSI investigators, the students put on their gloves and poked through the pellets and found beaks, skulls, and even backbones, certain evidence of what the owls ate.