Monday was our big field trip to the ranch to check out the owl boxes. But before the students arrived, my husband John and I had some work to do!
First, we took the backhoe to the spot where the purple owl box is. The purple owl box is the easiest to access, so it is where our field trip would be. John positioned the tractor below the box, and climbed into the bucket so that he could reach the trap door on the owl box. Inside he found just a few pellets, not the amount necessary for the field trip.
So we continued our quest for pellets to the green owl box that is deep in an avocado orchard.
Jackpot! Watch as John sorts through the items inside the box. Ultimately, he cleans out the box, readying it for another season of barn owl in-habitation.
Here is a close up of the perch.
And here is the view from inside the box:
We brought some of what he found over to the other spot and re positioned the tractor. I wanted him to climb up in front of the students so that they could get the full effect!
Fast forward to Monday morning. We had a leisurely bus ride to the country with a small caravan of mom’s behind us. The bus parked at our garage/work area, and we hiked to the purple owl box. (You may remember that last year we saw bear tracks on this particular ranch road, but this year we saw only squirrels.)
Once at the owl box, John showed the students a display box that he built and our girls painted. The box will be installed on the ranch this season.
Students were able to see the perch where the owls sit and search for their prey. They peeked inside the box, and looked through the trap door, where owls nest.
We talked a bit about how owls are not able to digest certain parts of their prey, and they end up regurgitating these parts in the form of pellets. At that point, John hopped on the tractor and lifted the bucket into place.
He climbed up, opened the trap door, and grabbed the three pellets that were in the box. (I was surprised that we only got a few “oohs!” The students must have been tired from the weekends’ events!)
John placed the pellets on trays as I passed out gloves and masks to students who were interested in touching and dissecting the pellets.
We were lucky to have a mom present who just happens to be a veterinarian. She helped dissect the pellets and identify some of the bones.
Here is a skull and a shoulder blade from a rat!!
Later, we went up to the house for a good hand-washing, snack, and some more exploring. The children loved the chicken coop, where they held chickens, fed them scratch grains, and collected eggs!
Once we returned to school, we finished up our worksheets on owl pellets.
Later in the afternoon, we added information to the Dinner Time page of our Owl and Bat Notebook.
Learning in the field always leaves a lasting impression on the students!