For our last date, Jackson and I went rollerblading on the river trail. It is a paved trail that follows the river. On our way back we passed a group of people who were all staring up into a tree. We stopped and bladed back to them (it takes us a while to slow down enough to stop :) ). They pointed out a mother owl with three babies. We found some landmarks to help us find the same tree again and planned to bring the kids out to see the owls.
The next Friday we packed a picnic lunch, picked up Jackson from work, and parked ourselves under the owl tree. We spotted one adult and two babies. They were sleepy...this one is giving a big yawn.
The adult wasn't sure if we were worth opening his/her eyes for.
We rummaged around underneath the nest and found bones...
...and a pellet!
We were so excited to find a pellet.
We ate our lunch and compared the owls to a book we had brought to try to figure out what kind of owl they were. We decided they were great horned owls.
This little one woke up a bit and peered down at us intensely.
Once we got home we used toothpicks and tweezers and carefully broke apart the pellet and separated the bones, feathers, and fur onto different plates.
Essie just picked her teeth with the toothpicks :)
We looked at the bones we had and compared the skull to some pictures online. We decided that our owl had eaten a mouse. I lucked out and found a life-size picture of a mouse skeleton. I printed it out and we matched all the bones we could. We weren't sure if we got some of them in the right places, but they looked pretty close to us.
Then, the boys drew pictures of one of the baby owls using one of the pictures we took as a guide. We also happened to have a "Wild America" video that had an episode about owls, so we watched that too. This was by far our favorite home school day yet!