Pel­lets

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Many birds re­gur­gi­tate pel­lets. It is not only owls that pro­duce th­ese compact bun­dles of in­di­gestible ma­te­rial. Other birds of prey, grebes, gulls, herons, cor­morants, king­fish­ers, corvids, shrikes and even swal­lows and shore­birds spit out pel­lets. Pel­lets can com­prise in­di­gestible plant mat­ter, in­sect skele­tons, bones, fur, feath­ers and so on; any­thing that the bird finds hard to di­gest. Owl pel­lets are the most well known, as they are rel­a­tively large, well formed and compact, and of­ten oc­cur in ac­cu­mu­la­tions at reg­u­lar roost­ing spots. Such pel­lets can be ‘dis­sected’ to re­veal what the owl had eaten. In gen­eral, larger owl pel­lets are made up of fur (or feath­ers), which in turn con­tains the bones, teeth etc of what­ever the owl has eaten. The smaller pel­lets of Lit­tle Owls may also con­tain a high pro­por­tion of chiti­nous in­sect cara­paces.

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