Students Get Wise About Owls

by Kennedy, Grade 4

This week, both of the Grade 4 classes at the Junior School had a special visitor from the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. Shirley Connor, who knows a lot about owls, brought in a slide show as well as specimens, props, owl pellets and owl recordings to further teach the children about the birds of prey.

Video highlights

Of the 200 species of owls in the world, 15 are found in BC and nine are found on Vancouver Island. Ms. Connor showed the range in size of owls through several cut-outs and dressed up one volunteer student as an owl to help explain owls’ features and their purposes.

The students were also able to name a long list of owl prey, including rats, mice, weasels, rabbits, voles and shrews. Ms. Connor also pointed out that owls were on the top of the food chain. “There are very few things that hunt them,” she explained, adding that only humans and other owls are threats.

After the presentation, students eagerly broke into groups to dissect owl pellets, little balls of fur and bones that owls regurgitate after they eat. Students used skeletal guides to identify the bones they found in the sanitized pellets as different parts of various rodents.

Monday’s event was a great experience and reward for the hard-working students, as one of them wrote:

On Monday, the Swan Lake Owl Program visited Grade 4 at the Junior School. The reason that they came to visit us is that we are studying habitats in our science class. In class we are also reading the book Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. When the owl visitor came she showed us the appearance of owls by dressing one of the grade 4 students up to look like an owl.

She also played sounds of owls’ calls from one owl to the other. After that we got to dissect owl pellets. Many students found mice ribs and skulls in the owl pellets. We learned many interesting facts about owls from the visitor. I really enjoyed the owl programme and dissecting owl pellets because we had to try to figure out what animal the owl has eaten. The pellet that I dissected had three skulls and twenty-five ribs!

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