WOW, or “Wings Over Wascana” Nature Festival, went really well this year. We had snow, but we also had Ozzie, a live Great Horned Owl and a live bat!
WOW is a nature festival for both schools and the public. The festival is designed for anyone interested in investigating Wascana Marsh on their own or through guided tours to learn more about the Wascana wetlands and wildlife. For the last two years I’ve facilitated the owl pellet dissection during the school day. During the school day, 200 students from the Regina area explore owl pellets. Owls digest the soft material (like meat) and the harder materials (like bones fur, feather, teeth) are formed into pellets which owls then regurgitate into pellet before their next meal. Investigating a pellet can answer many questions about an owl’s ecosystem.
I was apprehensive about using Burrowing Owl pellets for this major day of dissection because they are a lot smaller than the larger Great Horned Owl pellets usually used for leading pellet dissection. However, I need not have been worried. The student started to find rocks in their pellets. “Cori, what’s this?” Teachable moments. There were greater direct links to the little owl’s environment and the reasons why our Burrowing Owls are endangered in a Burrowing Owl pellet than in the hugely expensive Great Horned Pellets. We still found skulls and jawbones, so the students still had the “oh cook” and “oh, gross” moments. The sessions were wonderful. But the links for the teachers to take back what we explored were greater, and I was pleased. I hope the festival stays with Burrowing Owl pellets. Having students see, in their hands, the problems of loss of habit due to urbanization, was important. “You mean they are eating rocks ‘cause they live next door to a Wall-Mart?” Better teaching and learning in that tinier regurgitated treasure! – good day. And too busy to take pictures.. though… CBC was there… I’ll try to find some!