Dissecting Owl Pellets

Part of the "Energy Flow in the Garden System" Collection


Students will dissect owl pellets to collect evidence that they will use to reconstruct the owl’s food web and energy pyramid.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • S4L1. Students will describe the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.
    • a. Identify the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a community.
    • b. Demonstrate the flow of energy through a food web/food chain beginning with sunlight and including producers, consumers, and decomposers.


  • Owl Pellet Bone Chart
  • Owl pellet (1 per small group)
  • Paper bowl (1 per small group)
  • Forceps (1 per small group)
  • Journals or 8.5×11 copy paper (1 per student)
  • Coloring supplies (enough for each student)


  1. Explain to students that they will act as science detectives, using evidence to discover what an owl ate and what it’s prey ate – in order to reconstruct the owl’s real-life food web and energy pyramid.
  2. Display the Owl Pellet Bone Chart and distribute an owl pellet, paper bowl, and forceps to each small group.
  3. Direct students to dissect the owl pellet, compare the contents to the bone chart, and determine what species the owl ate. Record findings in science journals.