Truth be told, the fact that we were by the sea had little bearing on the Nature Club theme of the month, but it made a catchy title and I just had to show you the view from the place where we met ...
The Atlantic is gorgeous in the winter. Cold, yes - but gorgeous. :)
All this to say, our Nature Study Club held its February meeting today, and our theme this month was owls. We met at a wildlife refuge located along a salt marsh.
We've explored this refuge before, but this is the first time we've been inside their discovery museum. As you can see on my left-hand sidebar, we have a little owl study ongoing - a post full of notes and ideas is coming on that very soon - but for today, the older boys learned how to dissect owl pellets.
The museum classroom was set up with interesting owl-related stations. These three plaques showed (from left to right) the talons, prey and feathers of an owl.
This poster showed the owl pellet cycle in action:
Crackerjack played with a beautiful snowy owl puppet:
Here is an owl skull replica with an owl egg in the background:
Our teacher today, Mary, gathered the kids around to talk about owls for a while. What they knew, what they wondered about ... in this picture she's talking about how some owls have tufts that look deceptively like ears.
One of the really neat things we learned was that owls are absolutely silent in flight. This is because the tips of the wing feathers have tiny bristles that create micro-turbulance - a phenomenon that negates any sound the wings might make.
Mary showed the kids some beautiful stuffed snowy owls:
Then it was on to the pellets! Each child was given one pellet and various dissecting tools.
Crackerjack was somewhat hesitant, but he got into it after a while.
Not surprisingly, Bookworm jumped right in.
(I have to make a confession. You see how both my boys are wearing dark gray fleece shirts? Well, I'm not in any of these pictures, but I was wearing a charcoal gray turtleneck and sweater today. But I swear I did not mean to color-coordinate with the owl pellets - it just worked out that way, lol!)
We learned that an owl pellet consists of the fur, feathers and bones that an owl cannot digest. These materials find their way into the owl's gullet - and when the gullet is full, the muscles contract and the pellet is regurgitated (i.e. the owl vomits). The kids were given reference charts to help in identifying the bones.
This was not an activity that Earlybird could participate in, but I did bring home some nice coloring sheets for him. (He stayed home with his Nana and they talked - what else? - planets.) But I do have lots of owl-related activities planned for next week - and many are kinder friendly - so stay tuned for more about our current nature study!
For now, thanks for stopping by - I hope you have a good night!