Monday, November 16, 2009

Owl Pellets

I found a couple of owl pellets beneath one of the big cedars. Owl pellets are the regurgitated mass of material that the owl is unable to digest. Normally they are composed of bones packed inside a big hairball. One year I found several pellets containing feathers and Cardinal bills.

Opening an owl pellet is like unwrapping a Christmas gift. You have a general idea of what’s inside, but there’s always the chance you’re going to be surprised. Inside this pellet was a collection of small rodent bones.

The skull is the key to identifying the species. The owl typically kills its prey with a bite to the back of the head, so the skull is seldom intact. It looks like this meal was a Meadow Vole.

Owls like to roost in the upper branches of the large cedars. I’ve been hearing Screech Owls from this cedar grove for several weeks and suspect that to be the source of this pellet. Some years I find hundreds of pellets and other years very few. This isn’t an indication of owl abundance, just of the chance that I’m going to find pellets. Sometimes owls will maintain the same roosting tree for months and other times they seem to change location almost daily.


  1. Pretty cool, Steve. I've still never come across an owl pellet. Someday, I hope I will.

  2. Cool, Steave. I've still never came a cross an owl pellit. Some day, I hope I will.


  3. All of my finds have been by accident.