Owl Pellet Dissection. Five species of owls live in or pass through Maryland. Barn owls Great Horned owl Barred owls Eastern Screech owl Northern Saw-whet owl. Owls of Maryland. Barred Owl. Owls have special adaptations that enable them to hunt at night.
Great Horned owl
Eastern Screech owl
Northern Saw-whet owlOwls of Maryland
Their eyes are large and fixed, with binocular vision and good depth perception.
Because owls are unable to move their eyes, they have developed an incredibly flexible neck that allows them to turn their head 270 degrees in both directions.
Their eyes are also extremely light sensitive, allowing them to see well at night.Adaptations as predators
The shape of the owl’s flight feathers muffles the sound wind makes as it flows past them.
These are all perfect adaptations for finding and catching prey at night, and explain why owls have become the most efficient “hunters of the night”.Owls as predators
Owls, on the other hand, do not have teeth for grinding and cannot pass whole bone and claws through their digestive tract safely.
The protein enzymes and strong acids that occur in the digestive tract of raptors do not digest the entire meal.
The relatively weak stomach muscles of the bird form the undigested fur, bones, feather etc. into a bolus (or wet slimy pellets).
The undigested portions may include beaks, claws, scales, or insect exoskeletons. This type of material has little nutritional value and must be passed from the body.Owl Pellets
Owl pellets themselves are ecosystems, providing food and shelter for communities that may include moths, carpet beetles and fungi.
Moth larvae are frequently abundant in pellets, feeding on fur and feathers. The black spheres about the size of periods (.) that are found in the pellets are the droppings of the caterpillars. The larvae metamorphose near the surface of a pellet in cocoons made of fur.
The contents are a direct indicator on
What the owl has fed upon.
Important information for species management and protectionOwl Pellets
1. Red Maple
2. Black Gum
3. Sweet Gum
5. American Holly
6. Loblolly Pine
7. American Beech