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Fast Fact: Owl Pellets

What is an owl pellet? It’s not owl poop, as is sometimes thought. Owl pellets are bits of undigested food that owls regurgitate a few hours after eating. Still kind of gross, right? Owls frequently eat their prey whole, swallowing mice, birds and other animals without chewing or ripping it into smaller pieces. Their bodies can digest the meat, but not the feathers, fur, teeth and bones. Instead, these bits are condensed into an oval shape in the owl’s gizzard, and then the owl regurgitates it.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Owl pellets are often found at the base of trees, below the birds’ roosting spots. Picking through one can reveal some clues about what the birds have recently eaten. This is a good way to learn about the food chain, but make sure to wear gloves if you do dissect a pellet. Owls aren’t the only birds that make pellets. Some hawks and herons do too.


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