Dissecting pellets

Outside, the weather at Dead Creek WMA was cold and rainy, but inside the warm Headquarters workshop visitors to the Dead Creek Wildlife Day were busy uncovering the mysteries of owl pellets. Each person dissected a pellet, the indigestible remains of an owl’s most recent meal. Tiny skulls with teeth intact, leg and hip bones showing their ball and socket joints, delicate ribs, minute toe bones – all could be teased from the surrounding fur. Taken together, the bones told a story. How many prey did he eat? Were they different sizes? Was it a rodent or bird, shrew or mole? There was lots of excitement as each person identified their bones and then took them home. In all, 30 pellets were dissected by more than 70 enthusiastic visitors.

Our warmest thanks go to Craig Newman from the Outreach for Earth Stewardships, for bringing two live owls, a Barred Owl and a Northern Saw-whet owl. Seeing these beautiful birds, we could appreciate how pellets are only one aspect of what makes owls so unique.

– Carol Ramsayer

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