Monday, September 21

Perplexing Pellets

Okay, I asked for identification help in a Birds of Prey group I found on flickr. One of the group moderators thought my pellets may be from a tawny owl. How *freaking* cool is that?! Here is what he had to say:

Where in Europe? What habitat?
Lots of different groups of birds make pellets. I'm worried that you say they were '2 inches or so': did you measure them? Size is very commonly overestimated if not actually measured. If they actually were that size, I'd imagine they were too big for a kestrel. If they had no bones, what did they have? Were they largely fur with no bones? I can see bits of white stuff in your pics which do look suspiciously like bones. Given size and likelihood, my guess is tawny owl; they often feed a lot on earthworms which may or may not fit an absence of bones in your pellets.

After reading his feedback I provided more information. Here is what he then said:

Tawny owl still sounds a possibility. In the UK, at least, they often live within towns. If you want to break down a pellet completely, just soak it in water - you'll def find bones/teeth then if there are any - but be prepared for them to be tiny!

Little did he know that while he was writing his last comment I was out with a skewer breaking up more pellets. And guess what? I FOUND BONES! Not many and they were tiny like he said. I also found some fur. I'm so excited that they may indeed be from owls, but still want to know why he ruled out kestrels. Left him another question, hopefully he'll comment back.

Wanna see what a Tawny Owl looks like? Gorgeous! Read about them here.

Tawny Owl or Kestrel? Gotta tell you, the kestrel pellet description here sounds nearly identical to what I found. My heart wants Tawny, though.


Lisa said...

So cool. We would hear owls in our backyard all the time before the woods were chopped down. The girls would go out on their swing and hoot to the owls:-) So sad that we don't hear them anymore. I never thought to look for pellets. Great investigative work!!

Leslie said...

i would hope for the tawny owl too!! so beautiful.

Teacher Tom said...

Thanks for the update, Katy. You're so lucky!

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