Why are Owl Pellets Important? September 29 2016

Ornithology is a vast and fascinating field. And one of the most captivating birds of them all is the owl. These nocturnal hunters are surrounded in mystery, sparking a host of questions. Many of those questions are about parts of prey an owl’s stomach cannot digest – pellets. What are owl pellets? Why are owl pellets important? Why are owl pellets fumigated? What important information can be obtained from owl pellets?

While humans and many animals depend on their teeth for chewing, grinding and processing food, modern birds must use their beaks and digestive tracts.  Many birds, such as the Barn Owl, must swallow their prey whole, but unlike most birds owls do not have the baglike organ used to store food after it has been swallowed for later digestion.  Instead, the food passes directly from the gullet to the gizzard, where digestive fluids and bits of sand dissolve the digestible tissues.

The indigestible parts of their meal, such as fur, bones, and feathers, form into small masses called “castings” or “pellets” and are regurgitated by the bird.  Scientists dissect these pellets to learn more about the owl’s behavior and the complex nature of the food chain. Students, too, can observe and learn about owl pellets just like scientists do by using our advanced dissection kit. Simply order an owl pellet dissection kit from a reputable source such as Pellet.com to get started.