Dissecting an Owl Pellet

I had a wander around Allerthorpe Common nature reserve yesterday, on a recce for our work day next Sunday. Under the tree with the barn owl box in it, I was delighted to find a large number of owl pellets and lots of droppings. I brought one of the pellets home and soaked it in a bowl of water to produce a sort of mouse soup.

Pellets and droppings

Bones extracted from one pellet

Most of it was fur, but I was able to remove a lot of bones from it. There were two skulls (1), with matching pairs of lower jaws (2), which I think are from field voles. Another two jaw bones are slightly smaller and could be from a wood mouse (3). Some parts of the rear of the skulls fell apart, but were easily identifiable, as were the vertebrae. I’ve also found a shoulder blade (4), hip bones (5) and shins (6). Then there are thighs, upper arms and lots of tiny ribs.


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