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Wild Owl Pellets Can Be Disease Vectors February 21 2017

Field mouse, owl prey

Owl pellets are made out of the indigestible parts of their prey—bones, fur, claws and teeth. But they also serve another important purpose for the owl. Regurgitating pellets, which pass through the bird’s gullet on the way back up, scour and cleanse the digestive tract, removing pathogens and keeping the bird healthy. In fact, those who keep birds of prey like owl and falcons can use the state of the pellets to gauge their birds’ health.

Prey animals like field mice have actually learned to avoid the pellets because they are sources of infection. However, some of the germs in owl pellets, such as Salmonella, can also infect humans. That’s why all the barn owl pellets from Pellet.com are sterilized before being shipped for classroom use.

When you’re looking for a great hands-on biology or ecology lesson for your students, it’s important to have safe materials and the best tools. Make sure to only use owl pellets that have been sterilized and safe for human handling, like those from Pellet.com.


Dissecting Owl Pellets: What Tools and Accessories Do You Need? January 18 2017

owl pellets next to ruler

You may be eager to have your class begin dissecting owl pellets, but you need to make sure that you have all the right equipment first. Find out what dissection kit tools and accessories you’ll need before you get started.

 

Safety Gear

Even if you are dissecting sterilized owl pellets, they should be handled as if they are contaminated with bacteria or viruses. Aside from taking safety precautions like washing their hands, your students should also make sure to wear protective gear like gloves and safety goggles.

 

Tools and Containers

Rather than handling the pellets and possibly breaking some of the bones and other things they’ll find in them, your students should use tools like probes to dig through them and tweezers or forceps to pick things up. After you’ve found fur, bones, feathers, and other things, they can be stored in sealed containers.

 

Microscopes

Looking for a new twist on an old experiment? After dissecting the owl pellets and removing the undigested materials, you can enhance the experience by having your students examine their findings under a microscope.

 

Identification Kits

While animal remains may be easy for your students to spot and identify, they may have a harder time finding and identifying things like seeds, leaves, and crops. We suggest starting with our leaf identification kit for your first experiment. You can also help your students by providing them with cards or cheat sheets that help them see these types of things hiding in the pellets.

 

Dissection Kits

Looking for an all-in-one package that can meet all your students’ needs? Look for a dissection kit that includes the tools and accessories you want.

 

Genesis, Inc. has been providing science educators with all their pellet dissection needs for the last 25 years. Contact us to find out what accessories can enhance your student’s science experience.


Owls, Where They Live, and What They Eat December 23 2016

Owl preparing to land

There are over 30 different kinds of owls in North America alone. Each is unique, living only in certain areas, eating certain foods, and leaving identifying pellets. Here is some information about some of the owls you can find in North America and what their living and eating habits are. So, what do owls eat?

Common barn owls. Barn owls have round/disc-like faces and brownish-black eyes. They can be found in most places; however, they tend to like open woodland areas rather than forests. Barn owls hunt small ground creatures including mice, shrews, and sometimes baby rabbits, amongst other animals.

Flammulated owls. Flammulated owls have a grayish-brown face and tend to be colored in a way that allows them to blend in with tree bark. They can be found mostly in mountain pine tree forests. They eat mostly nocturnal insects and spiders.

Whiskered screech-owls. Whiskered screech-owls are a light grayish color with bright yellow eyes. They are virtually exclusively found in mountain forest areas. They typically eat insects such as grasshoppers and locusts but will sometimes take small vertebrates.

Snowy owls. Snowy owls are light colored and mostly white. Unlike other owls, snowy owls tend to be active during the daytime. They can be found in arctic tundra or open grasslands and fields. Rather than hunting, they like to sit and wait for their food. They will eat anything from fish to mice to squirrels.

Speculated owls. Speculated owls have long white eyebrows on their dark brown faces. They can be found in dense tropical forest areas as well as dry forest savannah habitats. They like to eat small mammals including mice and sometimes possums or skunks. They also tend to eat many caterpillars, bats, birds, spiders, and more.

Mottled owls. Mottled owls have a brown face with white eyebrows and whiskers. They can be found in humid forests, drier wooded areas, plantations, and thorny forests. They tend to feed on small animals, especially mice, but will also eat reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

Crested owls. Crested owls are a chocolate brown color. They can be found in lowland rainforests with undergrowth. They mainly feed on insects, but will also eat small vertebrates.

Northern hawk owls. Northern hawk owls have a broadly rimmed face with white eyebrows. They can be found in open pine forests with clearings and moors. They like to eat small mammals, especially lemmings and voles.

Mountain pygmy owls. Mountain pygmy owls have a pale brownish face and narrow eyes. They are found mostly in pine-oak and pine-evergreen forests in mountain regions. They feed mostly on insects, especially grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and beetles.

Elf owls. Elf owls vary in color between browns and grays. They are found in areas Southwest of the United States and prefer arid deserts and areas overgrown with cacti. They feed on weak prey because of their relatively weak talons. They tend to eat scorpions and insects.

Burrowing owls. Burrowing owls have pale brownish faces with while eyebrows. They can be found in open, dry grasslands and agricultural lands. They feed on a variety of prey and will change their food habits as location and seasons change. They like large beetles, grasshoppers, and small mammals like mice, rats, and gophers.

Stygian owls. Stygian owls are dusky brown with short, prominent eyebrows. They can be found in the forest or high in the mountains. They tend to feed on bats and birds as well as small mammals and insects.

Learn More Through Hands-On

Pellet.com supplies owl pellets, identification kits, instructor guides, worksheets, and more for your hands-on learning experience. Visit us at www.pellet.com to place your order today.


Owls Symbolism: Wisdom and Terror October 28 2016

Its Polarizing Views Around the World

Pellets.com is your source for owl pellets and owl pellet kits and have been helping children’s education in science for over 25 years. Along with food web posters, you can order owl pellet dissection kits online here. Myths and legends of the owl have been around for well over 25 years as well. We humans have been enthralled by owls since ancient times and have attributed them to supernatural and life aspects. Owls have been interpreted differently around the world. So what do owls symbolize? What does it mean when you see an owl? What did people think about when they saw an owl flying in the moon-lit night?

In ancient Greece, owls were associated with wisdom. The symbol of the owl was associated with the Greek goddess Athena, who was the goddess of wisdom as well as the patron goddess of Athens, the epicenter of art and scholarship in Greece. The likely reason why the owl is the symbol for Athena was because of the inspiration for the Greek goddess. Lilith was the goddess of death who had talons for feet and was flanked by owls. Unsurprisingly, the Roman appropriated version of Athena named Minerva also featured the owl has her symbol and was also the goddess of wisdom.

The owl is linked with death, ruin and destruction in the Middle East. They are seen as the representation of souls of those who died un-avenged. Such casualties were foretold before a battle if an owl was seen. Hearing the hoot of an owl signified that a bad day was imminent. Seeing an owl on someone’s house meant that someone living there is about to die.

Many people in other countries in the eastern hemisphere also tie owls to dreadful attributes like death because of human’s inherent fear of the dark. Some Asian groups believed that the owl was akin to a death god who would come to carry one’s soul away upon death. The Chinese would see owls as an order to dig a grave. Christian churches saw owls as a symbol of evil, linking them to Satan.

These views of owls persist in some countries, but nowadays are seen for their air of mystery and beauty in the night. Perhaps they can be seen for educational value as well. Order owl pellets along with lab dissection kits at Pellets.com so that your students can learn more about the bird of prey.


Why are Owl Pellets Important? September 29 2016

While humans and many animals depend on their teeth for chewing, grinding and processing food, modern birds must use their beaks and digestive tracts.  Many birds, such as the Barn Owl, must swallow their prey whole, but unlike most birds owls do not have the baglike organ used to store food after it has been swallowed for later digestion.  Instead, the food passes directly from the gullet to the gizzard, where digestive fluids and bits of sand dissolve the digestible tissues.

The indigestible parts of their meal, such as fur, bones, and feathers, form into small masses called “castings” or “pellets” and are regurgitated by the bird.  Scientists dissect these pellets to learn more about the owl’s behavior and the complex nature of the food chain.   Students, too, can observe and learn just like scientists through owl pellet dissection.  Simply order an owl pellet dissection kit from a reputable source such as Pellet.com to get started.


Get Your Kids Closer to Nature Through Owl Pellet Dissection Kits August 22 2016

We currently live in a world where screens have taken over. Television, tablets, smart phones, laptops—all these devices have gotten in the way of our children being able to fully engage with the environment and appreciate the world around them. There’s a solution for that though. Kids have natural curiosity; there is a drive to learn more, if we present the opportunities to do so. Want to know a new, fun, and scientific way to get kids more eager to learn? Buying kids nature kits with owl pellets will surely thrill and engage them!

 

www.pellet.com is a family owned business that has been providing owl pellet dissection kits for more than 25 years! They have facilitated learning and engaged students in examining the outside world, such as with these owl pellets for kids, for decades now. Pellet.com knows what it takes to get your child charged up about nature.

 

There are a variety of kids nature kits that will help your child engage with the scientific method and be more open to exploring the outside world. A great product to use is an identification kit. There are four identification kits to choose from, and your child will be able to learn about classifying objects, identifying seeds, leaves, and twigs, making predictions and hypotheses, and so much more! Identification kits allow your child to become the lead researcher, opening their world up to so much more.

 

Is your child a bit more interested in uncovering and observing? Pellet dissection kits provide a chance for them to be an investigator, tackling the life and digestion of owls. Our kits provide pellets for kids as well as the tools to break down the pellets and take notes on what they examine—bones, berries, fur, and so much more. Using an owl pellet dissection kit is like being an archaeologist of the natural world; your child will be able to draw conclusions about an owl’s diet patterns and the anatomical makeup of the creatures they’ve consumed. Check out our owl pellet lab, our most popular dissection kit we offer that is all-age friendly!

 

Is your child more interested in anatomy? We also offer a variety of skeletons for their examination—from lizards, to snakes, to turtles, to rats! Our skeletons allow them to learn about the different parts that construct a body, and they may even be able to compare some of the bones to the bones we have as humans! All of our bones are real, so we can assure you that you’re getting the complete picture.

 

Ready to get your child charged up about the outside world? Toss those screens to the side and order the best scientific experience for your child at www.pellet.com!

 

 


What’s Inside Owl Pellets? July 20 2016

Owls are the predators of the sky. These nocturnal birds of prey take off in the night for their hunts, usually to capture insects, other birds, small mammals, and sometimes fish. What’s interesting about owls is that you can see what types of prey they’ve hunted by looking through their pellets. Although it seems weird to rummage through something an owl has regurgitated, their pellets have many scientific benefits that people use to track their behavior and eating habits. So what are owl pellets made of?

 

To solve this mystery, we first have to answer: what is an owl pellet? Owls, like most birds, are unable to chew their food. Although their sharp beaks can devour their prey, this often time leaves large pieces of prey in their stomach, including parts that aren’t digestible. This includes teeth, fur, bones, and claws. Because these parts are not digestible, but also aren’t safe to pass, the owl’s evolutionary body is able to create a pellet through their gizzard. The owl’s gizzard tightly compacts these not-so-safe pieces into a soft, moist pellet that is then regurgitated.

 

So now that we’ve learned what pellets are, let's ask the question again—exactly what are owl pellets made of?Well, whatever pieces of the pray that the owl can’t digest, and is too dangerous (sharp or painful) to pass, gets processed into the pellet. Again, this includes teeth, fur, bones, claws, skulls, and feathers. Because these pieces are found inside the pellets, it is often easy to identify the prey that the owl consumed earlier. If feathers are seen, scientists can draw the conclusion that the owl preyed on another bird. Scientists can also differentiate different mammals consumed by looking at the skulls and the size of bones.

 

No two pellets are the same. The shape and texture of the pellet often varies, especially among the hundreds of species of owls. Owl pellets can sometimes be larger, smaller, tightly compacted, or loose and crumbly. It all varies by the owl and what the owl consumed.

 

Want to practice being a scientist and looking through your own owl pellets? www.pellet.com has been providing owl pellets for scientific and recreational purposes for more than 25 years. When you order pellets from then, you can specify what type of pellet and prey you are looking for. If you randomize your order, you can try and guess what the owl consumed! Happy researching!


The Hunting Habits of an Owl June 20 2016

Typically we think of birds as the type to survive on seeds and other vegetation. While that is true for many birds but not owls. Owls are carnivorous and hunt their prey which includes small rodents like mice, hares, and rats. There are also species of owls that also hunt fish.

Owls hunting habits are based on their environment. Which means that their prey will vary based on the region as will their hunting methods. But even so, there are some characteristics that are shared among the species. It is their unique make-up that allows an owl to be a fierce hunter.

How Do Owls Hunt?

Flying

The majority of owls have the ability to fly silently which gives them a distinct advantage over their prey. Their silent flight can be attributed to their feathers. Owls have larger feathers in comparison to most birds. Coupled with the serrated edges at the end of their wings, owls flapping is reduced and nearly noiseless. Prey are unaware that they are being hunted until the owl has them in their grasp.

Sight

Owls are nocturnal creatures and do most of their hunting at night. They are one of the few nocturnal birds that rely on their vision to hunt. One characteristic of an owl is their large and their size is the reason why they can see their prey in the dark. Owls eyes are tube shaped because they are a large eye in a small skull. It does not allow them to move their eyes but they can swivel their heads and pinpoint prey from a large distance.

Hearing

When they cannot see their prey, owls rely on their hearing. The placement of their ears tend to be asymmetrical which allows them to pinpoint their prey just through their hearing. An owl will turn their head until the sound reaches both ears at the same time.

Talons and Beak

While their vision and sight are important in tracking the prey, it is the strength of their talons and beak that allows them to capture their prey. Depending on the size of the owl and the size of their prey, an owl’s talons possess an impressive amount of strength. The sharpness of their claws and beak allow an owl to grasp and kill their prey with ease.

Owl Pellets

Learning about owls is nothing short of astonishing. Continue to learn with owl pellets that give insight to an owl’s hunting habits. For more information about owl pellets, visit pellets.com


5 Interesting Facts about Owls May 18 2016

Unraveling the Mysteries behind the Owl

Owls are majestic creatures that have an air of mystery about them. Many cultures see them as omens of both good and misfortune. A lot of it comes from lack of knowledge about the birds. Here are some facts about owls that will dispel their enigmatic qualities but leave you impressed all the same.

5 Impressive Facts About Owls

  1. Owls Can Turn Their Heads (Almost) All the Way Around

Many believe that owls can turn their heads all the way around. They very nearly can. Their necks have the ability to turn 135 degrees in either direction. Scientist attribute this to bone adaptation which allows owls to turn their head without cutting off blood flow to their brains.

  1. Owls are Far-Sighted

Here's a fun fact about owl's eyes: The shape of an owl’s eyes are not spherical. Instead, they are shaped like tubes which go back into their heads.  This means their eyesight is fixed and is far-sighted meaning they can see prey far away but everything up close is blurry. The shape also makes it easier for them to see in the dark.

  1. Their Hearing is Nothing Short of Amazing

To help with their sight is the super-sonic hearing owls possess. Owls are able to hear prey that are hidden beneath dirt, leaves, and brush. Some owls will even have a few sets of ears along different heights of their heads. This enables owls to detect their prey exactly where they are at.

  1. They Act as Pest Control

Since owls eat a lot of rodents, many farmers are now installing nesting boxes on their property. The average barn owl will eat over 3000 rodents in a four month span along with 50 pounds of gopher in a year.

  1. Owls Eat Their Prey Whole

Generally, owls will eat their prey whole after killing it. Owls do not possess teeth so they cannot chew their food. Their digestive tract is able to process their prey and compact what could not be digested into a pellet.

Owl Pellets

At Pellet.com, we provide these owl pellet facts and natural barn owl pellets for study so that more mysteries of the owl can be unlocked. From the pellet, we can discover the diet of certain owls or animals that are in the area.

For more information about owls and owl more pellet facts, please visit our site.

 

 


Make Science Engaging for Young Students April 18 2016

Students and Science

 

One hurdle many teachers face is engaging students in learning science. Some young learners flock to the subject while others hold a great indifference for it.

 

Trying new ways to keep students engaged in the subject is your best bet to turn their indifference into a lifelong love. Engagement also ensures that your student’s grades will improve because they are actually paying attention and motivated. The key is picking the right activities to draw your student’s attention.

 

How to Engage Students in Learning Science

 

Before you introduce a new activity, you have to understand which ones will work and which ones will simply bore your students.

 

Worksheets are not an engaging activity. Yes, it will keep them busy but it will not keep their interest. Nor will having them read aloud from the text and answering summary questions out-loud. Think of activities that will garner the results you want from the worksheet but that are hands-on.

 

Students learn best when they are able to engage with the subject physically or are able to problem solve. Here are a couple of examples.

 

Biology is one subject that students struggle with but it is a necessary to learn. Simply reading about the inner workings of any organism can be confusing. That is why dissection is a very popular activity in the science community. Once students have learned the fundamentals, they are allowed to see it up-close through dissection. There are various ways to explore the inner workings of an organism, such as through the dissection of an animal or its pellet.

 

Owls have a fascinating way in which they consume their prey. They swallow it whole and once it is digested, they expel a pellet that holds the bones of their prey. By opening up the pellet, your students can learn about the owls digestion as well as the type of animals they prey upon.  It is the kind of hands-on activity that your students will love.

 

Purchase Owl Pellets for the Classroom

 

At Pellet.com we provide classrooms with owl pellets. It is a great activity that can keep students engaged in science and spark a life-long passion for the subject. For more information about our pellets, please look at our site or contact us via our online form.


Welcome to Pellet’s Blog Page March 18 2016

Who is Pellet?

On behalf of all of us at Pellet, we would like to welcome you to our blog page. We will be utilizing this page to keep your informed about the happenings with our company as well as provide useful information concerning owls and owl pellets.

For now, we would like to take the opportunity to let you know more about our company and our pellets.

Over the past 25 years, we have been a provider of Owl Pellet Dissection Kits. We are a family owned business located in Washington State. Our pellets have been used all over North America for classroom exploration. Our pellets are a fantastic way for students to interact with science.

Why Study Owl Pellets?

Studying of owl pellets is an important part of science. Many birds cannot chew their food, owls included. The only choice is to swallow their food whole. Through owl pellets we discovered that they do not have a crop like other birds, but a baglike organ used to store their food once it has been swallowed to be digested later. Once in the gizzard, the tissue of the prey is dissolved for nutrients and what we are left with is bone. The gizzard compacts all of this material in a tight pellet.

Other than how their digestive tract works, we also learn about the type of prey consumed by the owls. Which means we also learn about the type of prey that is available to the bird in a particular region. Since owls vary in size, you can see how the size of their prey will vary as well.

The pellets themselves will vary depending on the species of owl that produced them. Pellets range from furry and tightly compacted into an oval to loosely compacted and irregularly shaped. Depending on the pellet’s moisture, you can spot a fresh pellet to one that has been expelled long ago. If a pellet is moist, that indicates that it was freshly expelled. The longer is has been sitting out, the dryer it has become.

Order Owl Pellets for Your Classroom Today

There are so many true facts about owls just waiting to be discovered. Watch your students become instantly engrossed in science by allowing them to work hands-on with this project. Order your owl pellets with us today.

Keep checking back with our page to learn more.