Pellet or Poo?

On our morning walk, my husband watched me pause to examine a series of small brown blobs in the road before hurrying to catch up with him. “Aren’t you going to take a picture of the poop?” he challenged. So back I went, camera in one hand, stick in another. He was right. I shouldn’t let my blog followers down.

pellet-2

I poked the blob apart. It was mostly fur with other bits I couldn’t identify and possibly a bone. Google recommended microwaving pellets before examining them… Maybe next time… and with a microscope! Bet you can’t wait!

pellet-3

Enlargement didn’t help. Our suspicion was they are red shouldered hawk pellets. FYI, pellets are regurgitated, ie. they come out of a bird’s beak instead of its butt.

A pellet, in ornithology, is the mass of undigested parts of a bird’s food that some bird species occasionally regurgitate. The contents of a bird’s pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. In falconry, the pellet is called a casting.

The passing of pellets allows a bird to remove indigestible material from its proventriculus, or glandular stomach. In birds of prey, the regurgitation of pellets serves the bird’s health in another way, by “scouring” parts of the digestive tract, including the gullet. Pellets are formed within six to ten hours of a meal in the bird’s gizzard (muscular stomach).

The pellets weren’t in the road at 3:30 PM yesterday. So dinner was later. Maybe it’s an owl pellet! Google says American hawks don’t hunt at night. We found the pellets at 9:30 AM.

scat-1

The artistic pink creation above is herring gull scat (poop). Trying to ID the seeds. I learned that autumn olive seeds turn raccoon scat pink but I don’t recall ever seeing pink raccoon scat. Maybe it’s winter grape? Or maybe magnolia seeds, though I don’t think they’re the right shape. Do you see the red skin bits that encased the seeds? Since scat varies according to animal’s diet, any guidance is appreciated!

 

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Carrie Staples

Author, illustrator of "The Yarn Animal Book", probably the only craft book with instructions for making such unique yarn animals as an orangutan, an ant eater, a llama and a star-nosed mole and "The Single Minded Prince, a fairy tale for all ages about a boy and a pirate captain who both misbehave. The books and a booklet series based on each different yarn craft topic covered in "The Yarn Animal Book" (pompoms and other really easy yarn crafts, knitting, crocheting, rya, needlepoint and embroidery), are available on Amazon and Kindle.

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