Spring Camp; The Proof is in the Pellet

 

It is almost time for spring camp! This year we will be exploring the messy side of art, science, food, and nature. I am the Nature Specialist2880 at Kidspace, so, naturally, I am very excited about exploring the messy side of nature. Nature can be stoic, serene, pristine, peaceful, and very beautiful at times, but sometimes we can see another side. It can be ooey, gooey, gross, and utterly messy. We will be getting our hands in actual dirt and slime to discover this hidden side of nature. By getting in these messy situations, we can discover some pretty incredible things about the world around us.

One of my favorite activities we will be doing this camp is dissecting owl pellets. Sound gross? Messy? Incredible? Yep! You also might wonder what an owl pellet is…

Owls are amazing birds of prey that live on every single continent except for Antarctica. They are usually nocturnal and are incredible predators. Like other birds, owls cannot chew so they often swallow parts of animals that are indigestible. They have 2 stomachs—one to digest soft tissue and one (the gizzard) to take care of all that indigestible matter. All of this matter gets compressed into a firm little pellet that the owl spits back up. We are going to investigate an owl’s last meal by dissecting these mysterious pellets. We can see what they ate, how much they might of eaten, and we will gain a better understanding of a critter that we share this planet with. We will also be exploring the world of worms, making our very own swamps—complete with mud, moss, and swamp sludge, discovering how scat can tell us a story about the animals we see all around us, and we will be helping some of the Kidspace critters get clean because animals [including us] can get really messy! I hope you can join us for spring camp; I am very excited to share the messy side of nature with everyone!

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Kelley Benes, Nature Specialist, has been with Kidspace Children’s Museum since 2016. In her spare time, she is training to be a docent at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. She currently oversees Kidspace’s live animal collection and the Nature Exchange.