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All About Owl Pellets

Life Science - Middle School

 
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What is an owl pellet? Owls generally swallow their prey whole. They digest all the fleshy parts of the prey but are unable to digest the hair, fur and bones. In the gizzard, the indigestible body parts are formed into oval-shaped masses, called pellets. These pellets are regurgitated through the mouth, since they cannot be excreted through the digestive track. Each pellet may contain the remains of more than one prey animal if multiple animals were eaten within several hours. We can find out what an owl has eaten by examining the prey remains within a pellet. What’s inside an owl pellet? Biologists learn about an owl’s diet by examining its pellets that are regurgitated. Pellets contain the indigestible remains of prey animals such as rodents, shrews, moles, insects, reptiles and small birds. Catching the prey Once the prey is caught, it is positioned head first in the beak. This barn owl has caught a shrew. 1 Swallowing the prey The prey is swallowed, passing through the esophagus where it enters the glandular stomach or proventriculus. 2 Digestion The digestion process begins in the glandular stomach where enzymes break down the prey which then passes into the muscular stomach or gizzard. Nutrients pass through the intestines and are absorbed into the body while the indigestible parts are retained in the gizzard and formed into an owl pellet within six to ten hours of a meal. This pellet then travels back up into the glandular stomach where it is stored for several hours before it is regurgitated. 3 Regurgitation Before the owl eats another meal, it must cough up or regurgitate the pellet. During this process, which can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, the esophagus begins to contract forcing the pellet out. The owl appears to be in great discomfort and seems like it is having difficulty breathing. However, once the pellet is out the owl is back to normal. 4 How do pellets form? How do pellets form? What’s inside an owl pellet? What’s inside an owl pellet? What is an owl pellet? What is an owl pellet? bones feathers, claws, teeth Photo © K aren Arnold; Dreamstime.com glandular stomach glandular stomach muscular stomach (gizzard) esophagus esophagus glandular stomach pellet pellet forming vent pellet whole owl pellets owl pellet contents All About Owl Pellets www.newpathlearning.com © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. 94-4614
What is an owl pellet? Owls generally swallow their _______________ whole. They digest all the fleshy parts of the prey but are unable to digest the hair, fur and bones. In the _________________, the indigestible body parts are formed into oval-shaped masses, called ________________ . These pellets are ________________ through the _______________ , since they cannot be excreted through the digestive track. Each pellet may contain the remains of more than one prey animal if multiple animals were eaten within several hours. We can find out what an owl has eaten by examining the _______________ _______________ within a pellet. What’s inside an owl pellet? ______________ learn about an owl’s ______________ by examining its ______________ that are regurgitated. Pellets contain the ______________ ______________ of prey animals such as rodents, shrews, moles, insects, reptiles and small birds. Catching the prey Once the prey is caught, it is positioned _______________ _______________ in the beak. This barn owl has caught a shrew. 1 Swallowing the prey The prey is swallowed, passing through the _______________ where it enters the _______________ _______________ or _____________________ . 2 Digestion Briefly describe the digestion process. __________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________ 3 Regurgitation Before the owl eats another meal, it must cough up or _______________ the pellet. During this process, which can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, the _______________ begins to contract forcing the _______________ out. 4 How do pellets form? How do pellets form? What’s inside an owl pellet? What’s inside an owl pellet? What is an owl pellet? What is an owl pellet? bones feathers, claws, teeth Photo © K aren Arnold; Dreamstime.com esophagus All About Owl Pellets www.newpathlearning.com © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. 94-4614 owl pellet contents \|xiBAHBDy01765tz]
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