Owls of Alberta

Did you know that Alberta’s provincial bird is the Great Horned Owl? Owls are specialized predators with several superb adaptations to aid them as they hunt. The following video from Nat Geo WILD shows off a few of these adaptations and offers some fantastic footage of a Great Horned Owl in action.

Perhaps even more surprising to some people than the owl’s incredible hunting ability is what happens near the end of that video—the Great Horned Owl swallows the mouse whole! By swallowing prey whole, the owl’s stomach is able to extract nutrients from every part of the prey.

However, not everything can be digested. Fur, bones, and claws are left behind, and the owl’s digestive system forms these into what is known as a pellet. The pellet is later regurgitated and can be examined by scientists to learn about the owl’s health and diet.

Are you interested in becoming a nature detective and dissecting an owl pellet? Our next online workshop will let you do just that! On May 23, discover what is hidden in owl pellets, and learn about the adaptations, habitat, and diet that make the owls of Alberta so extraordinary. All registrants will receive one sterilized owl pellet to dissect during the online workshop, and will work with the workshop interpreter to sort, examine, and try to identify the pellet’s contents. For more information on this engaging workshop, please look over the following timeline.

Timeline for the Owl Pellet Dissection Online Workshop

  • Anytime before Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 4:30pm:
    • Register online by clicking here.
    • All ages welcome. Parents will need to help younger kids.
    • Be sure to register with an email address you check regularly; this is where we will send the Zoom meeting information.
    • $12 registration fee includes one sterilized owl pellet, dissection tools, bone identification guide, delivery of supplies within Red Deer city limits, and the online workshop where a trained interpreter will aid you in your dissection and identification. Please note the registration fee does not include GST for adult participants; no GST is added for children and youth.
    • Extra delivery fee of $4 to Penhold/Blackfalds, $8 to Innisfail/Lacombe/Sylvan Lake, or $12+ to Alix/Bentley/Bowden/Eckville/Stettler/Olds/Rocky will be applied as needed.
  • Friday, May 22, 2020:
    • Supplies for the Owl Pellet Dissection Workshop delivered to your doorstep.
    • Delivery times will be arranged based on location.
    • Our staff will ring your doorbell then walk a few feet away and watch to make sure you pick up your supplies. Please be home at the pre-arranged delivery time to receive your supplies.
  • Saturday, May 23, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:30pm:
    • Workshop takes place over Zoom. Please ensure you have a stable internet connection and are able to connect to the Zoom meeting.
    • The owl pellet dissection workshop will include a discussion of owl adaptations followed by a step-by-step owl pellet dissection tutorial in real time. By the end, you will have dissected your owl pellet and identified a number of the objects found inside.
    • Before the beginning of the workshop, please have your supplies ready. This includes all the materials delivered to your door on May 21, as well as newspaper or some other protection for your work area.


Posted May 19 2020