The Owl Pellets Song: Where Music and STEM Unite
As musical genres go, “owl pellets music” is pretty specific. In fact, it appears to be limited to a single song—so far. But what a song it is.
Existing at the nexus of art and STEM, “Owl Pellets” was written a little more than a decade ago by David Bydlowski and Fred Ribits of Science Explosion. The educational tune is intended as a fun teaching tool for K-12 students and takes listeners on the journey of owl pellet dissection, from unwrapping the foil surrounding an owl pellet, through carefully taking it apart to discover the wonders it contains, all the way to reconstructing the bones to discern what animal matter is found within.
Beginning with the chorus, “Owl pellets, owl pellets, owl pellets, a ball of bones and fur and other things,” the song quickly moves into rhyming and highly informative verses such as, “An owl must eat like you and me, it hunts all night when it can see, using its claws to capture things, it moves about so silently.” After a few more lines and the chorus, it tackles the dissection itself, “Remove the foil and you will see, an unknown blob with pointy things, pick it apart and you will find, a big surprise waiting inside.” It makes its way through the process of dissection, offering helpful tips (“separate the bones from all the fur, mix up with water and gently stir”) before coming to the finale of “Now this might seem gruesome to you, you know the owl doesn’t give a hoot, so please accept his apology, he did it for the sake of ecology” and one last chorus.
It’s not often you hear someone rhyme “apology” with “ecology,” but Bydlowski and Ribits pull it off with aplomb.
STEM Art with Heart
Far from just a quirky example of the intersection between art and STEM, the owl pellets song is a slow-burning viral sensation of sorts. The YouTube video—complete with lyrics as well as still photos of owls both eating their prey and regurgitating it as precious pellets—was posted in February 2011 and has since garnered more than 400,000 views.
However, it’s not until you read the comments on the video that you realize the owl pellets song has resonated well into adulthood with people who first heard it as kids. The comments section is full of observations like, “I remember hearing this song in science class and my friends sung the song the whole school day,” and “You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to the owl pellets song” and “I love the amount of students that listened to this in class and genuinely liked it this much.”
Even more endearing are the shout-outs to individual educators who played the owl pellets song as part of their dissection unit in class:
“I remember doing this in fifth grade… Shout out to Mr. Will and I hope you still do this because this was so fun.”
“Shout out to my 4th grade science teacher, Mrs. Moosebruger, for culturing my class and enlightening me with the owl pellets song.”
“Thanks for playing this in science, Mrs. Adams.”
From our many years of working with educators and students, we know that dissecting owl pellets is a science lesson that everyone enjoys and looks back on fondly, which helps folks retain the information they learned about owls and from their pellets. Now, thanks to Science Explosion, we can count the owl pellets song along with bone sorting charts and dissection sticks among the teaching tools used for owl pellet dissection. Good things happen when art and STEM collide.