An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Barred Owl Pellet and Droppings

There are two subjects in this photograph – one is dark and round (left) and the other is whitish-yellow and brown, and string-like (right).  One came out of a barred owl’s mouth; the other came out the opposite end.  Do you know which is which?  The round, brown object is an owl pellet which owls (and many other birds) cough up roughly 6 – 10 hours after consuming a meal.  It is just about odorless, and consists of the indigestible parts of the owl’s prey — bones, teeth and nails wrapped in the fur of, in this case, a vole. (The fur keeps sharp bones from tearing the owl’s esophagus when the pellet is coughed up.)  Different owl species have different sized pellets, and typically the larger the owl, the larger the pellet. (The average barred owl pellet is 2 ½” long and 1” wide.)   A great gray owl pellet (3”-4” long and 1 ½” wide) I found contained the skulls of three small rodents, in addition to other bones.  The whitish substance is the owl’s semi-solid waste. It consists of white uric acid and feces which are excreted through the bird’s cloaca, an opening that is used not only for waste disposal, but also for mating and egg laying.

3 responses

  1. Who knew! learning a lot from your posts.

    March 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

  2. Etienne

    Thank you for the interesting post. It will be great fun to look for owl pellets with my 5 year old daughter. Hopefully we will find something interesting. Although we live in a suburban/rural mixed area, we have a lot of owls and many other animals living in our backyard and in nearby wooded areas. Please keep up the great posts I look forward to reading them more than any other(s) (I breeze 20 or so each time I read email).

    March 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

  3. Wow, wonderful weblog layout! How long have you ever been running a blog for?
    you made running a blog glance easy. The entire look of your web site is excellent, let alone the content material!

    July 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s