Owl and Mice Bird of Prey Nature Craft for Kids
Learn About Owls and Mice
Owls are a favorite bird of prey for children to study. Its signature eyes and keen hunting ability make it endlessly fascinating. There are many interesting facts associated with owls, some of them true, others not true.
Myth That Owls Can Turn Heads Around Completely
Owls appear to turn their heads completely around 360°. The truth is, it only looks like they can do this. While it is true owls can turn their heads up to 270°, it isn’t all the way around. Owls have holes in their vertebra that are 10 times larger than other animals. This allows their blood vessels traveling through these holes greater ability to move without damage, which is one reason they can turn their heads so far. Also, owls eyes are not round like a ball, but are shaped more like a tube. Because of this fact, owls cannot move their eyes in their sockets. This is another reason they turn their heads around so far.
Owls do make the classic hoot sound, although I’ve never really been able to hear the ‘t’ sound at the end. The sound is more like ‘who’, which is also closely associated with owls. There really is a type of owl called a screech owl. It does make a haunting sound, especially if you are alone in the woods at night!
Here is a clip of the sound that screech owls make.
Sometimes Owls Need Help
This is a clip from a bird rescuer. He narrates as he speaks and it includes many interesting facts and tidbits about bird rescue.
Owl with Owlets
Are Owls Wise?
Owls are famous for being wise. This probably derived from the fact that they are able to wait patiently until it is just the right moment to attack their prey. Legends about owls are in Greek, Celtic and Native American mythology. The owl is connected with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Athens is named from the goddess Athena and its emblem is the owl.
Because of their wise reputation, the following children’s poem has been around for centuries about owls:
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?
Fuzzy Feet and Late Nights
Owls feet are often covered with feathers all the way down to their claws. Most birds have featherless claws.
Owls are nocturnal, meaning they spending their waking hours during the night. However, I myself have seen owls out during the day. The owls I have seen during the day have been out during the winter and it is usually in the late afternoon.
My Favorite Owl Books
This is a great book for pictures of owls. Very sweet.
For a fun activity, especially in the fall. Read the book Owl Moon Jane Yolen for an enchanting story about owl hunting on a winter’s night. It is my favorite owl book. If you want to see pictures of owls, try the book Owl Babies by Martin Waddell.
Have you seen an owl in the wild?
Owls are unable to digest bones,fur and feathers. They will compact these items into a ball shape and eject it from their throat. These are called owl pellets. Sometimes entire creatures, like a field mouse, can be reconstructed from the bones inside of an owl pellet.
An Owl Pellet
Owl Pellets Available
How an Owl Hunts
One fact of life that makes for a good food chain lesson is to talk to children about what owls eat. Owls are predators and they will hunt for anything smaller than them. Skunks, fish and crayfish are all menu items. Even cute things, like rabbits and mice, can make a meal for an owl! Most owls like to sit on a branch or other perch with a good view. It will swoop down when it sees something, stretch out its talons and grab it. The force of the impact stuns the prey. It will often take it somewhere else to eat or to feed its young. Sometimes owls drop straight down on their prey, only opening their wings at the last moment.
Collect Items to Make an Owl and a Mouse
A great activity to do with children is to read some books on owls, then take a nature hike. While outside, you can collect things to create nature art animals for a food chain hunting scene. When collecting, always follow the 20 to 1 rule: for every 20 things, only take one item. So, if you see 20 pine cones, you can take one (as long as you are on your own property and not a nature preserve or protected area). If you see 40 of something you can take two things, 60 three things and so on.
Things to collect for this project include a pine cone, an open milkweed pod, two acorn caps, maple helicopter (also called keys or samaras), 3 to 6 small seeds for eyes and beaks and noses, a leaf stem or something for a mouse tail, two grass seed heads to make fuzzy owl feet. You can also use long, slender flower heads to make the feet.
Create an Owl from Natural Items
Mouse as Prey for the Owl
A cute idea is to collect some smaller pinecones to make owlets. I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve seen them. What you do is stuff a little pine cone with white fluff. You can get the fluff from milkweed pods or from dandelions or use fabric stuffing. Set the pinecone on the wide end and put the acorn cap eyes up near the pointy end.
I just used regular white glue to stick the items onto the pine cone and milkweed pods. You can make this more permanent by using hot glue, with adult supervision. When I taught this lesson to a group of students, they just jammed the items into crevices and cracks and made everything stick without using glue. A true nature experience!