30 Days Wild Day 20 – Dissecting an owl pellet!

Hi everyone, welcome to Day 20 of 30 Days Wild! We are two thirds of the way through our challenge and I have to say, it’s been amazing! It’s more of a challenge to blog than to be ‘wild’ of course, as wildlife and nature are such an integral part of our wonderful everyday. 

Yesterday (which technically was Day 20) I received a very special package from my friend Emily who is the founder of the Little Owl Project and a brilliant Raptor Ecologist. I was so thrilled to receive it and very keen to get stuck in! 

What a haul! I will treasure the Kestrel and most of the Little Owl Pellets as Kestrels are rare to see here and we don’t have Little Owls at all!!! The majority are Barn Owl pellets a species which is making a comeback here in Northern Ireland thanks to the Be There For Barn Owls project by Ulster Wildlife. So really, it was such a rare treat for me to see and handle the pellets and further my journey as a budding Zoologist! 

I soaked the pellet in water for a little bit and added it to my tray for dissecting with a pair of tweezers. It was careful and exact work and I absolutely enjoyed every second. I really took my time – not wanting to lose or damage a single bone. I love hands on work which needs care and precision. 

I started off using gloves but quickly ditched them as I needed to feel what I was working with. The pellets don’t smell or pass through the intestines so they’re quite clean. Not that that would bother me at all, Pine Marten and other scat, haven’t stopped me ????

I pulled a skull which I believe to be a vole alongside many other bones and invertebrate shells. I looked at quite a few bones under the microscope and in particular the lower jaw, with its gently sloping teeth was beautiful to look at. I’m looking forward to cleaning everything up, labelling and keeping a collection of the bones. I can’t tell you how excited I feel!! I can’t wait to improve my skills and further my knowledge of pellets, bones and invertebrate remains. 

I’ll be sure to keep you posted (a lot ????)
Thanks for reading 


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8 Responses

  1. Well done again.Your blogs are so interesting. Unlikely ever to dissect owl pellets so extra interesting.

  2. Great read. Love the pictures.
    I’ve dissected owl pellets with classes of school children where I work. They loved it. They were so interested with what they found.
    It’s a great way of getting up close to nature. Very hands on.
    You found some interesting specimens. It’ll be fun identiying them all.

  3. It looks like you’ve a good few hours of study there, Dara! Would love to know what you find out, please.

  4. Wow! Amazing work. It is exciting to see what you found in the pellet dissection. I really must try this some time.

    By the way, I just discovered your blog on Wordpress this evening. I’m looking forward to following your posts. Thanks for sharing!

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