One way to tell if the female owl is eating


Owls typically swallow their prey more or less whole — head, skin and bones.  Rather than pass the indigestible bits through their entire digestive system, where they might cause intestinal damage or blockage, owls simple cough up a “pellet” — a neatly wrapped package of fur and bones that is about the size of half a standard hot dog.  So if searching the ground in the general vicinity of the nest tree finds pellets, we can be pretty sure that feeding and digesting is going on in the area.  On the other hand, absence of pellets might simply mean that the female owl prefers a more distant tree for hacking up the remains of yesterday’s meal…

GHO pellet

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8 Responses

  1. Has it been confirmed that this owl has “eaten” since she has started nesting? Can an owl go an extended period of time without eating? We are just following Mrs. Owl and her eggs, and these are the questions my kids (as well as me) have.

    • One of our birders posted a couple of days ago about analyzing the pellet that she would regurgitate after her digestive system finishes with the edible parts of the prey. We haven’t found any pellets (and we’ve been reminded to use gloves when retrieving these – you don’t know where that’s been!), but we believe that the male is bringing her prey and that she leaves the nest occasionally to eliminate and to eat. She frequently is smacking her bill when she returns. We’ll let you know when someone sees the male again, but meanwhile see the video with yesterday’s post entitled “Mom and Dad on the nest..”

    • Those are great. Thank you for posting. SO cool you can get such a clear view of them. We only hear them here in the North Atlanta area. We see and hear Barred Owls closer to our homes than the GHO. They seem to stay further into the woods by the lake.