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The Owl and the Vole ... pellet!
While walking through the woods in the vicinity of a Barn Owl's nest, I stumbled upon their favorite place to regurgitate pellets. The undigested parts, hair and bones, from a previous meal or two that accumulate in their stomach. And there were so many of them. Struck by curiosity I picked up two. After disinfecting the pellets I spent a few days taking them apart, separating the massive amount of hair from the bones. I thoroughly cleaned the bones and reconstructed the skeleton that seemed to be about 80% complete. As I suspected it was a Meadow Vole. And a big one too. With the second pellet I was not so lucky. Maybe half the number of bones compared to the first one. The bones also belonged to a Vole but of much smaller size. An interesting and fascinating find!
A bit more detail on how all this careful dissection went from start to finish in the blog post here.
Barn Owl at nest in late afternoonSo many pellets about 300 feet from the nestA good size pellet, about 2-3 inches longA very careful dissection begins with removing the abundant hair and gently pulling apart the piecesA very careful dissection begins with removing the abundant hair and gently pulling apart the piecesLooks like I have a complete Vole headVole skull with lower jawSo much hair everywhereVole skull, lower jaws and the two vertebrae right behind the skullSkull and lower mandibles after a thorough cleaningSkull after a thorough cleaningThe three vertebrae just behind the skullTail vertrebae and the disks between themSkull after a thorough cleaningSkull after a thorough cleaningComplete lower right jaw and the very long incisor from the other jawVole skull with one of the top incisors removedSkull with the upper and lower incisors removedVole skeleton. About 80% completeRear legs and tail bones