Day 2 – 30 Days Wild – dissecting a pellet

It isn’t only owls that produce pellets, Corvids, Cormorants, Herons, Kingfishers, Gulls, Swallows and lots of other species including Robins also produce them. Although you are more likely to find an owl pellet, as they tend to be more compact and therefore survive on the ground longer than a pellet from a bird such as a Robin or Blackbird, which is softer and more easily washed away by the rain.

A pellet is a mass of the undigested parts of what the bird has eaten. This can include bones, fur, feathers, claws, beaks, exoskeletons of insects or plant matter. Pellets from birds that eat worms often contain bits of sand.

The pellet can take 6 to 10 hours to be produced in the bird’s muscular stomach. This is then regurgitated up through the beak and dropped on to the ground. These pellets can often be found under roosting sites.

Whilst out walking I found a pellet which was 3cm by 1.5cm. Full of beetle elytra (the hardened outer wings), sand or small stones. It wasn’t under a tree but in the middle of a field.

I am guessing, because of where I found this and the content, that the pellet is from a Corvid such as a Rook.

I’ll be grateful if someone can confirm.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_02



About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. This year my debut book "Get Your Boots On" was published I am a keen amateur photographer. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire Badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
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7 Responses to Day 2 – 30 Days Wild – dissecting a pellet

  1. Bob Cowley says:

    Hi Alex,
    Just catching up with your last few blogs.
    You are right that this pellet comes from a corvid, but I’m confident that this one is actually from a Carrion Crow.
    Rook pellets can be a similar size, but tend to be more loose. They don’t usually hold their shape so well as this, and they don’t usually take so many beetles.
    What have you done with all the beetle fragments? If you still have them, my partner, Linda Losito, would love to get her hands on them. She uses a microscope to identify even very small insect fragments to species, as part of a study we are making of bird pellets and their contents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tony says:

    Looks like a new type of breakfast cereal to me, lol.

    Liked by 1 person


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Zinzi says:

    Had no idea that robins and some of the other birds you listed produced pellets! Thank you for educating me 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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