The neighborhood crows and I were both disappointed that we didn’t find the Great Horned Owl in its usual roosting tree in Columbus Park. Here’s what the owl looked like yesterday afternoon — the third day in a row we had seen it in exactly the same spot in a White Oak tree:
This morning I looked at the same tree from every angle — and every tree around it — for 10 minutes and couldn’t find the owl. Then five minutes after I gave up a flock of Common Crows flew into the roosting tree and landed in its upper branches. These were tough crows! I had earlier seen them harassing first an American Kestrel and then a Red-tailed Hawk. I figured they knew something I didn’t — after all, crows first found this owl for me on November 24th. So, once the crows flew off, I went back to the roost tree and looked again.
Still, no owl.
I should have been disappointed, but I looked at the bright side. If the owl was in its roost, I would have backed off and left it alone. Since there was no owl to scare off, I could go look for owl pellets under its roost. (Owl pellets are the remains of animals that the owl ate — whole or in really big chunks. The pellet is the regurgitated remains of the owl’s meal, after the flesh and guts have been digested.)
Here’s what I found:
The more I looked, the more I found:
The last pellet I found was the biggest and the boniest:
I saw one rodent or rabbit front tooth in a pellet, but the rest of the visible bones were from legs, feet, hips, shoulders, or backs. I’m not good at identifying animals from their limb bones — I need to see teeth.
I guess we’ll go back at some point and dissect some of the pellets. If we find some jaws or skulls, we’ll know better what our urban owl was eating in Columbus Park.
Then we’ll wash our hands really well. After all, we’ll be handling owl vomit!
We found more owl pellets on January 31st, including one containing a rabbit jaw. You can see them here.
Here are links to information and activities about owl pellets: