Our 4th level students have been reading the novel, My Side of the Mountain, which features a boy and his peregrine falcon hunting together. The (9-12) teachers planned an educational afternoon where handlers of birds of prey shared interesting facts about owls, falcons, buzzards and more while circling among the students, birds – in hand and close up.
Students learned that barn owls’ eyes take up 80% of their heads and that owls can’t actually rotate their heads all the way around like the cartoons show–just 270 degrees. Barn owls find their prey mostly with their ears. In fact, they can better locate their food by having fringed wing tips that keep their flight more silent. And barn owls have ears that are off center from each other which helps them to better locate the exact location of their prey as they swoop in from great distances to a slight rustle in the grass that spells disaster for a mouse or lizard.
Fourth graders were thrilled to witness various birds of prey up close and flapping on their gloved hand as each took turns bravely feeding a morsel to a hawk.