Monday, February 21, 2011

Owl Pellets

Today in the News: I'm going to sub the news today for an extra Link of the Day.  LeLoup posted this on his site.  It is basically an old school air rifle, but it is a large caliber.  Lewis and Clark used this as their trump card.  Does anyone know where I can get a reproduction?  I NEED one!

Link of the Day:  Owl Pellets - I might add that at the end of this article, it suggests microwaving the owl pellet before dissecting.  I don't know about you, but if I stuck an owl pellet in my microwave, Mrs. Hotel would make sure that heads rolled.  Be careful out there.  Bernard Ten Bears and I were talking about it yesterday and he said that the best way to kill all of the gnarly stuff left over in the pellet is to soak it in bleach.

Owl Pellets

Last weekend, we took the Oompa-Loompas out for a hike.  It was really windy that day and we ended up cutting the trip short.  My main goal was to get them fed and keep them warm, not an easy deed when all they want to do is take off their gloves and roll in the snow like maniacs.

Mrs. Hotel was pulling down the supervisory duties and keeping their minds off of their cold noses.  I was down in behind a large spruce, attempting to cook up some ravioli on the cardboard stove.  For a moment, the wind slowed and I took a break from cooking.  I noticed, beside my stove, a little white something down in below the spruce needles.  I dug for a moment and came up with this:

A rodent skull.  I was a little shocked and excited.  I don't see rodent skulls every day.  I poked around a little more and found this:

A ball of hair and bones.  I wondered for a moment if it was a piece of coyote skat.  I've seen more coyotes out here this year than any other year.  With that, I've noticed a decrease in the deer population.  I'd like to say that I'm unhappy about it, but I'd rather have a coyote in my yard than a mountain lion. 

I poked through the pile with a stick and was undecided as to what it was.  I went back to cooking and noticed the cones around the tree.  I was daydreaming a bit and noticed that one of the cones just didn't belong. I looked closer and it wasn't a cone at all.  It was an owl pellet. I neglected to take a picture.

By that time, the oompas were howling and Mrs. Hotel was being vocal about her discomfort due to the wind.  I told her what I had found and she responded with an "oooohhhh, gross" and when I told her I was going to take it home and dissect it, she protested.  When she wasn't looking, I scooped up the pellet and the skull with a spare ziploc bag that I had and shoved it in my hoodie pocket. 

I had one Oompa on my shoulders, my pack basket on my back and another Oompa in tow in a plastic sled.  We headed toward the car rather hurriedly due to the wind.  In the middle of the field before the car, I took and tripped on some crusty snow, stumbling, trying not to let go of the Oompa on my shoulders and also trying not to fall on my aging pack basket.  Rolling, I ended up on elbows and rib cage, swearing (I never swear) and trying to make sure Oompa # 2 was alright while Oompa #1 ran off screaming for Mrs. Hotel because she had never heard me cuss before.  I wasn't feeling great about the moment and even less so when I got to my feet and discovered I had thrown my back out.  Oompa #2 was fine.  He has already discovered the art of "tuck and roll" and looked at me like it was no big deal.  Meanwhile I was yelling for Mrs. Hotel to stop, all the while losing my cool with her for no other reason than that it was her idea to walk across the stinkin' field instead of staying on the trail because it was icy. 

I was on my feet for a moment, then on my knees (sucking wind), then back to my feet.  I asked Oompa #2 to get in the sled explaining that Papa hurt is back and couldn't carry him on his shoulders anymore.  He refused and insisted on walking.  Fine.  Walk. Then I walked on and apologized to Oompa #1 for making naughty choices and saying bad words and yelling.  I wasn't yelling, really, just exclaiming the disparity of my situation while attempting to multitask.  Oompa #3 looked at me and said, "Papa fall down? Hahahahaha!"  Right.  Get in the car, kids.

I'm not giving you the play-by-play of my crash and burn session for no reason.  I had put the pellet in the front pocket of my hoodie.  When I got home, I went to take out the pellet out of my pocket guessed it.  It was gone.  I was heart broken.

Some Close-ups I took before the stumble-n-roll.

I've never found an owl pellet before.  Then again, I've never looked.  I was really excited by the whole situation and, while I'm disappointed, I'm also encouraged.  It is a new thing to look for when I'm out doing my thing.  What I don't know is whether or not they are hard to find.  I know what you're thinking.....who wants to dig through owl puke?  Me.  Thanks.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.


  1. I've found a few in my time (by accident). They were all under fairly good-sized trees where the owls were apparently roosting for a while.

  2. Ah, to bad you lost it. You would be surprised what you find in those things, we dissected some in Jr. High/Middle School (Years and years ago) and found all sorts of bones. I think the agency that brought them in just stuck them in something like a dehydrator at full temp. Not to sure though. Bleach would be good too, not only to kill everything but it would whiten the bones and make them took even better.

  3. Look for Barn Owl pellets under fairly tall, thick pine trees. A pine windbreak or small grove preferably next to or near open fields. Pellets found under trees other than evergreens are most likely Horned Owl pellets, which are usually a lighter gray and not as compressed as Barn Owl pellets.