What’s Inside Owl Pellets?

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Owls are the predators of the sky. These nocturnal birds of prey take off in the night for their hunts, usually to capture insects, other birds, small mammals, and sometimes fish. What’s interesting about owls is that you can see what types of prey they’ve hunted by looking through their pellets. Although it seems weird to rummage through something an owl has regurgitated, their pellets have many scientific benefits that people use to track their behavior and eating habits. So what’s inside owl pellets?

To answer this question, we first have to discover what owl pellets are. Owls, like most birds, are unable to chew their food. Although their sharp beaks can devour their prey, this often time leaves large pieces of prey in their stomach, including parts that aren’t digestible. This includes teeth, fur, bones, and claws. Because these parts are not digestible, but also aren’t safe to pass, the owl’s evolutionary body is able to create a pellet through their gizzard. The owl’s gizzard tightly compacts these not-so-safe pieces into a soft, moist pellet that is then regurgitated.

So now that we’ve learned what pellets are, let’s ask the question again—what exactly is in an owl’s pellet? Well, whatever pieces of the prey that the owl can’t digest, and is too dangerous (sharp or painful) to pass, gets processed into the pellet. Again, this includes teeth, fur, bones, claws, skulls, and feathers. Because these pieces are found inside the pellets, it is often easy to identify the prey that the owl consumed earlier. If feathers are seen, scientists can draw the conclusion that the owl preyed on another bird. Scientists can also differentiate different mammals consumed by looking at the skulls and the size of bones.

No two pellets are the same. The shape and texture of the pellet often vary, especially among the hundreds of species of owls. Owl pellets can sometimes be larger, smaller, tightly compacted, or loose and crumbly. It all varies by the owl and what the owl consumed.

Want to practice being a scientist and looking through your own owl pellets? www.pellet.com has been providing owl pellets for scientific and recreational purposes for more than 25 years. When you order pellets from then, you can specify what type of pellet and prey you are looking for. If you randomize your order, you can try and guess what the owl consumed! Happy researching!

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What’s Inside Owl Pellets?

The Hunting Habits of an Owl

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Typically we think of birds as the type to survive on seeds and other vegetation. While that is true for many birds but not owls. Owls are carnivorous and hunt their prey which includes small rodents like mice, hares, and rats. There are also species of owls that also hunt fish.

Owls hunting habits are based on their environment. Which means that their prey will vary based on the region as will their hunting methods. But even so, there are some characteristics that are shared among the species. It is their unique make-up that allows an owl to be a fierce hunter.

How Owls Hunt

Flying

The majority of owls have the ability to fly silently which gives them a distinct advantage over their prey. Their silent flight can be attributed to their feathers. Owls have larger feathers in comparison to most birds. Coupled with the serrated edges at the end of their wings, owls flapping is reduced and nearly noiseless. Prey are unaware that they are being hunted until the owl has them in their grasp.

Sight

Owls are nocturnal creatures and do most of their hunting at night. They are one of the few nocturnal birds that rely on their vision to hunt. One characteristic of an owl is their large and their size is the reason why they can see their prey in the dark. Owls eyes are tube shaped because they are a large eye in a small skull. It does not allow them to move their eyes but they can swivel their heads and pinpoint prey from a large distance.

Hearing

When they cannot see their prey, owls rely on their hearing. The placement of their ears tends to be asymmetrical which allows them to pinpoint their prey just through their hearing. An owl will turn their head until the sound reaches both ears at the same time.

Talons and Beak

While their vision and sight are important in tracking the prey, it is the strength of their talons and beak that allows them to capture their prey. Depending on the size of the owl and the size of their prey, an owl’s talons possess an impressive amount of strength. The sharpness of their claws and beak allow an owl to grasp and kill their prey with ease.

Owl Pellets

Learning about owls is nothing short of astonishing. Continue to learn with owl pellets that give insight to an owl’s hunting habits. For more information about owl pellets, visit pellets.com

The Hunting Habits of an Owl