21 January 2015

What does an Owl eat?

I noticed an Owl Pellet while checking my beehives after a stormy night. I've seen pellets here before and I know that an Owl, most likely a Barn Owl, likes to roost in the tree above the hives. An Owl can eat it's prey whole but can't digest all the tough parts like bone and fur so reguritates these in a pellet from it's throat. Out of curiosity, this time I picked up the pellet and took it home. Then followed a fascinating, if messy, experience! Click to read futher and to see some photographs

Contents of a Barn Owl Pellet. Photo M.Malcher
Contents of a Barn Owl Pellet - Photo: M.Malcher
The first step was to soak the pellet to make it easier to dissect and then to tease out the tiny bones and teeth from a mass of dark fur. What had the Owl been eating? I am fairly sure that Field Vole and Mouse had been on the menu!
The shape of teeth is a key to correct identification and I do not have a microscope which would be helpful. One of the teeth had a more rounded appearance which might be from a much rarer Water Vole? Maybe an expert can tell me more?

Teeth in an Owl Pellet -  Photo: M Malcher
More information at:
Barn Owl Trust - What is an Owl Pellet?

RSPB Owl Pellets - how to study their contents