Monday, 15 March 2010

Proof of the pudding

Well, most likely it's the main course.......... in fact it's the only course as Prestwick Carrs Short eared Owls appear to have been mainly eating voles. No great suprise in that but the quantity is pretty impressive. Of the four pellets I have collected the first was not typical for the species being thin and strangulated so contained just a single jaw bone. The second however was very typical being large and about two centimeters in diameter, compacted with bones showing and in two lengths of five and four centimeters.

This pellet contained the remains of four animals, indicated by a skull and pair of jawbones with a fair size difference between them ( I don't pretend to know much about mammal skeletons so if I've mis-identified any please let me know).

The third and fourth both contained the remains of three animals although the third had an extra jawbone from a fourth victim. This seems to indicate an abundance of food so it's hardly surprising the owls are persisting with the flooded conditions. When I had the opportunity to carry out this sort of study previously, in 2000 - 2002, most pellets contained at most two animals. I will try to get some more so I can send the results to David Glue at the BTO who keeps records of this sort of thing and must have thought I'd given up the ghost in the intervening eight years. It's a shame I couldn't find any in the snow as it would have been interesting to see if their diet changed. In my previous study when the owls hit hard times Beetles, Pied Wagtail and Starling were amongst the prey.

1 comment:

  1. That's quite a surprise to hear of them taking something as large as a Starling. Just goes to show, as i experienced myself, what measures birds will go to in extreme conditions.