A while back, I posted on some Barn Owl pellets I found in a local barn where Barn Owls have nested. It’s taken a while, but while waiting for the Super Bowl to begin yesterday afternoon, I dissected one of the pellets. After dissection, I worked at reconstructing the skeleton of the prey found within the pellet, in this instance a rather large mouse. In this first photo, you can see the entire skeleton (less a few of the smaller bones that were nearly impossible to remove from the pellet). You can see the skull at the top of the photo, along with the 2 mandibles (jawbones). Below the skull are some of the vertebrae and off to the sides are the scapulas and front leg bones. After putting this together, the remainder of the bones were quite difficult (and I wasn’t very patient!) to place in the correct locations. But you can see some of the leg bones and some of the curved ribs:
Looking closer at the sketleton and the two mandibles (note that some of the mouse’s hair was still attached to the skull and bones):
For those not familiar with owls, they swallow their prey whole. Later, all undigestable materials are regurgitated as a “pellet”. When I was checking my “owl trail cam” that is set up in a nearby barn where Barn Owls have nested (and I built/installed a nesting box for the owls a couple of years ago), I found several fresh pellets. After sterilizing the pellets, I dissected one of the larger pellets.
I’ve had the trail cam working for the past couple of months, so will probably drop by very soon and change out the batteries and SD card. Hopefully, there will be some evidence of recent Barn Owl activity … nesting would be great!