A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting out on our deck when a huge bird swooped in and landed right on a branch not far from where were sitting. It was a great horned owl! I grabbed my camera and shot a few photos, but I didn’t want to scare him off with too much movement (that’s why the quality isn’t awesome).
Our neighbors’ cat was perched on a rock nearby and the owl was rotating his head back and forth looking at the cat and then us. His body scarcely moved the whole time. He then flew to the top of a tall tree and we carefully and quietly followed him. We were able to observe him for about 30 minutes as he surveyed our yard for a meal. It was a special night for sure and the kids were enthralled as we shared the story and photos the next day.
For our nature study, I first read a wonderful book called Baby Owl’s Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis. It told the story of a family rescuing a baby Great Horned Owl that had fallen from its nest into their yard. There are some nice pages in the back giving interesting facts about this owl breed.
We then looked through a Peterson Field Guide Book about Birds of Prey. We found some wonderful facts about owls in this book.
- They have excellent vision (one of the best set of peepers in the entire animal kingdom!) and can even see at night.
- They can aim the tufts of feathers around their ears to create a funnel effect to better hear sounds.
- They eat their prey whole and then regurgitate it as a pellet.
- They like to eat skunks so sometimes their nests smell like stinky skunks!
After learning some neat facts about the owls, Bud and Peanut drew a picture of the bird to paste into our notebook. Bud copied his from the field guide and Peanut drew hers by looking at the picture I had taken. She said he was “eating a mountain lion” (see the red blood?).
We also ordered a synthetic “Owl Pellet” that Bud dissected to find a mole skeleton. We had fun piecing the skeleton back together and labeling the parts.
The kids had narrated from a wonderful nature book called Character Sketches and were able to easily connect many of the things that the naturalist spoke about.
“The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings.” Isaiah 34:15