Friday, July 14, 2017

A regurgitated corvid food pellet

Although owls and birds of prey are best known for regurgitating pellets of indigestible prey fragments, other birds - including herons, gulls and members of the crow family - also produce similar but smaller pellets.




































This one, which I found on a fence post today, was most likely produced by a crow, magpie or jackdaw. At the front of the pellet you can see a crane-fly wing.


















If you look closely you can see that much of it is made up of chitinous fragments of insect exoskeleton. There are broken pieces on what look like beetle elytra in there but are also crustacean remains, in the form of the tail segments of a wood louse (the white material just above the centre of the picture).


4 comments:

  1. Fascinating stuff. I had no idea corvids and herons did this. I often find tawny pellets at home but will now be watching for corvids too!

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    1. Only only found this by chance - small and easy to overlook!

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  2. I had one of those, balanced on a fence post, and could not guess who. I had ruled out Owl by the composition. It was a few weeks ago on a Roman hillfort in Dorset. Thanks for the idea !

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    1. If you can find a copy of Collins Guide to Animal Tracks and Signs by Preben Bang and Preben Dahlstrom it has a plate showing a variety of different bird pellets on pages 192-193

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