Nerding Out on Nature:

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Owl Pellets and Owl Pellet Cookies: Don’t get them mixed up!

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I offer you an important lesson today, my friends, one that could very likely save you from walking around with mouse bones stuck in your teeth.

This is an owl pellet:

owl-pellets

And these are owl pellet cookies:

Owl Pellet Cookies.jpg

Why should you care? Because owl pellets are a hoot and a half to dissect.

Here’s the deal. Whenever possible, owls swallow their prey whole. But they can’t digest the entire mouse or rat or songbird or snake. So about once a day, the owl’s stomach makes a pellet with fur and feathers on the outside, and sharp bones of the prey on the inside.

Let me dispel a major misconception right now: a pellet comes out of the beak-end of the bird, people, not the butt! You can find them on the ground under trees when you’re hiking, or order them online, and then pull them apart with tweezers to see what the owl had for a meal.

Here’s a group of kids examining owl pellets after my latest Raptors Rule! slideshow and reading from my novel, Avenging the Owl at the lovely Third Place Books Ravenna, Seattle.

good pellets.jpg

Dissecting owl pellets is fun, and for a really good time, combine this activity with owl pellet cookies.

Hey, wouldn’t this make for a most excellent birthday party?!

Here’s a deliciously-weird recipe from Jane Hammerslough’s super-fun, super-sciency book, Owl Puke.

owlpuke

Owl pellet cookies

Servings: 36 to 45 cookies

6 cups crispy rice cereal

2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

2 white chocolate candy bar, chopped into bonelike bits

Foil for wrapping pellets

1. Mix cereal and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Mix sugar and corn syrup in a small pan and heat until bubbling.

3. Remove sugar-syrup mixture from heat and stir in peanut butter.

4. Stir peanut butter mixture into cereal and chocolate chips and mix together well. The chocolate chips will melt. When the cereal is coated, allow the mixture to cool.

5. Put 2 tablespoons of the mixture into your hand. Sprinkle 4 to 5 white chocolate bone and skull pieces on top.

6. Squeeze mixture in your fist until it looks like an owl pellet. Wrap, if you’d like, in a small square of foil.

Mmm. So tasty. What’s your favorite owl-related activity? Feel free to comment here!

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Author: Melissa Hart

I'm the author of Better with Books: Diverse Fiction to Open Minds and Ignite Empathy in Children (Sasquatch, 2019), as well as the award-winning middle-grade novel Avenging the Owl (Sky Pony, 2016). I'm contributing editor at The Writer Magazine, and my essays have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Advocate, Hemispheres, Orion, High Country News, and many other publications. Website: www.melissahart.com. Instagram: @BetterwithKidsBooks

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