Barmy about barn owls: Owl pellets

Currently we have at least one pair of resident barn owls on our 250 acre Dairy Farm, with one notable pair being seen amongst our farm buildings and fields closest to the centre of the farm.

On 26/05/16, I found a barn owl pellet within our straw barn, which was at least 1 month old. Through my interest in barn owls and the other species living on our farm, I then soaked the pellet and teased it apart to find the small mammal bones within.

The pellet was filled with lots of bones, such as shoulder blades, hipbones, femurs and humeri.

From the skulls and jaw bones found in the pellet, I was able to identify the four skulls to species level. Two skulls were from common shrews…

…and two skulls were from field voles.

It was really interesting to be able to get closer to the small mammals that can be found on our farm, whatever the level of species abundance. It also gave me the opportunity to brush up on my skull and bone identification skills with the help of an RSPB owl pellet identification guide, which can highly recommend to others

(https://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/Owlpellets_tcm9-133500.pdf). 

I also recommend to others to get out at this time of year and to find your own owl pellets to learn more about the owls and prey species in your local area.

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