Sunday, 15 February 2015

Day 106 - Barn Owls Part 2

The pellets.
Hi all today's Day 106.

Yesterday in my Barn Owl post I said that I would do a post on Barn Owl Pellets. So, I went and found out some pellets which my parents had found a few days earlier and started dissecting them. I recorded this and I have embedded the video below:

As I showed in the video above, I found a lot of bones in the pellets. We found 7 field voles in the pellets and I even managed to construct one out of the materials I found. We identified the pellets to be Barn Owl Pellets from the size and shape of the pellet. We knew they were all the same because of the contents of the pellets.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the facts-highlights of the pellets:
The sandier pellet
  • Barn Owls usually swallow their prey whole but can't digest the feathers/fur and the bones so they regurgitate them in pellets.
  • One of the highlights was when I saw the first skull in the first pellet. I wasn't very good at dissecting the pellets so I broke a small bit of the bone off but it was still in good condition.
  • As Barn Owl Pellets have been examined for years, the diet of a Barn Owl is easily figured out. From research people reckon that the most frequent food eaten by a Barn Owl is the Field Vole.
    Some of the field vole bones
  • The Field Vole is the only animal I found in the pellets which is secure evidence of the fact above.
  • In the course of one year a breeding pair of Barn Owls needs around 3,000 prey items to survive. This converts to around 4 prey items per Barn Owl every night. I think either the Pellets I got were dropped by two Barn Owls that were resting in the same place after hunting or possibly from one Owl visiting the same spot over a couple of nights.
  • One of the pellets was quite sandy and I read that this means it the owl probably had more Earthworms in its diet. I thought one of my pellets was different because it looked different, it was just sandier than the others but they all turned out to have the same prey items
Here's a few links that you might find useful if you ever find any pellets and want to do your own dissection.

A 're-constructed' field vole

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. I've always understood that Barn Owls don't eat worms - is the area the pellets were found sandy, or are there areas where the owl was hunting that might be?

  2. I may have confused them with a different owl. I re-read the Barn Owl trust website and it says they don't eat earthworms. Not sure why the one pellet was so much more compact and sandy than the other.