Sunday, August 8, 2010

Owl Eyes

We attended a garden themed, children's fair this weekend, and were treated to an impromptu science lesson. One of the tables, was manned by representatives of the Audubon Society, with live owls.

After being told about the dangers of great horned owls, in great detail, with a story about how a mother owl had recently dispatched two researchers, trying tag the owlets - apparently, one man had his eyes plucked out, and fell from the tree to his death, while the other had his jugular opened, fell from the tree, and then bled to death before he could get help - we were given opportunity to pet a smaller, but still sharp beaked, long eared owl.

Amazingly enough, the children stepped forward, to pet it. Apparently, it was quite soft. Then the woman holding the owl, folded back its feathers, to show us its ear, and the cartilage tube that holds the eye.

She actually did a really nice job explaining to the children about how owls cannot roll, or turn their eyes, but instead move their head. She told the children to imagine they were holding binoculars up to their eyes, and that would be how an owl sees. So, we had to try that out.

I had the kids take turns being the owl, and the prey (well, the prey was pencil). The child holding the pencil moved up and down, and back and forth, while the "owl" tried to keep an eye on the pencil, without moving his head. They figured out pretty quickly, that an owl needs to move it's head, in order to follow a moving object.

We learned quite a few other fun facts about owls at the fair, too. Like the fact, that they have nictitating membranes, for cleaning their eyes (like a cat, or dog), and can turn their heads much farther than we can (because of very long necks). We double checked these facts, and found quite a few more at the Owl Pages.

Check them out for yourself, by clicking the link above, or click, here, to find more science fun for children, at this week's Science Sunday link-up, at Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Unknown said...

"Whoooo"-rey for a fantastic day of owl study!

Kylie said...

That owl is stunning, isn't it. I love those opportunities.

Christy Killoran said...

I think owls are fascinating. Every year we plan to go to "owl day" at our local audubon society and then something always comes up. I love the experiment you did with the binoculars. Great idea.

Ticia said...

Owls are so fascinating, and I'd love to see one up close. I'm going to have to remember the experiment with the binoculars for when we get there in our science.

The story, not so cool. But my kids would have been fascinated probably.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Wow - what a horror story about researchers, but fascinating facts about owls. SF zoo has a great owl exhibit, but we haven't had a chance to see an owl so up close and personal. I also liked a binocular experiment.

Brimful Curiosities said...

Awesome owl post. Who knew a mother owl could be so very protective? A couple years on an evening nature walk, my daughter and I spotted a small owl in a house we thought was for bats. Mighty interesting species, those owls.