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Barn Owl pellets


Watch a Barn Owl cast (regurgitate) an owl pellet in this video! (Russell Savory, UK)

What is a Barn Owl pellet?

  • Facts about owl pellets
  • Pellet Dissection PDF
  • Educational Resources

Facts about owl pellets

  • Pellets are the undigested parts of a bird’s food, such as hair or bones, which are regurgitated (cast up through the beak).
  • Many kinds of birds produce pellets including birds of prey, crows and even sparrows. The appearance depends on what they eat.
  • All owls produce pellets and dissecting them is a great way to find out what different owls eat!
  • Owl pellets are not droppings (faeces/poo) – and they do not smell!
  • Barn Owl pellets are black when fresh and gradually turn grey as they get older.
  • Barn Owl pellets are fascinating to investigate and analyse – be a scientist, by gently pulling the pellet apart to see what it is made from. Record your findings in a notebook with drawings or photos. Why do you think there is a ruler in the photo of a Field Vole skull below?
  • Wild Barn Owls in the UK feed mainly on voles, shrews and mice, which are sometimes swallowed whole.
  • Barn Owl pellets contain the undigested fur and bones of as many as 6 small mammals, sometimes even more! Occasionally, very unusual remains may be found such as moles or frogs.
  • You can identify what animal the bones came from by looking at the skull and measuring the jaw bones.
  • Bird bones and even bird rings are sometimes found too. A Barn Owl pellet from Essex contained a BTO ring that had been fitted to a wren in Northumberland – 300 miles away!
  • How to dissect and analyse a Barn Owl pellet: Download a free* Barn Owl pellet analysis worksheet – (Suitable for use in schools.) *Free for personal and educational use only – copyright Barn Owl Trust.
  • Buy a pellet dissection pack direct from the Barn Owl Trust – everything you need, including a real Barn Owl pellet for you to dissect!

A variety of bird pellets. What might the birds eat?

Pellets 0306 boch plate 24 smaller
Field Vole Skull Top Owl pellet dissection

Field Vole skull

Barow perched prey pellet russell savory 000000 b 1 small
Barow pellet collage bethan foulkes 100120 a small small

Barn Owl pellet dissection for kids – free* PDF to download

    *Free for personal and educational use only – copyright Barn Owl Trust.

    Barn owl science pdf
    Farmwise event pellet dissection [dwt] 141014 (b)

    Educational resources

    Free for personal and educational use only – copyright Barn Owl Trust.

    Fun facts for kidsLesson plan ideas