Birds That Produce Pellets
There are many different species of birds in the animal kingdom that produce pellets. While owls are the most commonly known, other species rely on the production of pellets in order to digest their meals. If these birds couldn't produce or regurgitate pellets, their food would get backed up and they would essentially die.
Here are some of the different types of birds that produce pellets:
Most teachers, students and hobbyists who dissect bird pellets use the ones produced by owls. Typically, they produce the largest pellets filled with a wide range of animal parts from their prey. Dissecting a pellet from an owl can yield rodent exoskeletons, insect shells, bills, beaks, claws, hair and fur.
Out of all the pellet-producing birds, owls are the most easily accessible, therefore making their pellets more common than others. Owls love the dark shade of farms, silos, outdoor storage buildings, sheds, and large coniferous trees. Oftentimes, people living with any of these structures can walk out there on any given day to find a slew of owl pellets (owls produce pellets daily).
While their exact numbers are unknown, there are believed to be around 220 to 250 different species of hawks worldwide. Although, in North America, there is only about 25 different species.
Hawks produce some of the largest pellets among all predatory birds, only second to the owl. The contents of their pellets will greatly depending on the species of owl, their location, and the type of prey consumed.
Here's an interesting Hawk fact for you; hawks are known as having the highest "avian" IQ of all birds in terms of hunting and feeding tactics. Their eyesight is nearly five times greater than that of a humans due to their large concentration of photoreceptors in the retna (approximately 1 million per square mm).
Another large, pellet-producing type of predatory bird are eagles. Worldwide, there are around 59 different species of eagles, although the ones most people know best are the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle.
The size of a pellet produced by an eagle and the contents of it will vary depending on their type. Eagles can be categorized into four different types; Sea and Fish Eagles, Harpy Eagles, Snake Eagles, and Booted Eagles. Harpy Eagles, which inhabit the exotic rainforests of South America and Philippines, are the largest of all eagles. Their regurgitated pellets will often contain the remains from rather large land mammals such as tree sloths and monkeys.
A fourth type of pellet-producing bird is the falcon. Bird terminology can be confusing to some, so I'll explain as to what the definition of a falcon is; a falcon is any predatory bird in the genus Falco. Taxonomists state that there are 37 species of falcons worldwide, all of which produce pellets.
If you ever get a chance to dissect a falcon pellet, you'll find that the content differ greatly than those of an owls. Typically, the average mass of an owl pellet will be around 8 to 10 grams, while the average mass of a falcons pellet will be much smaller, around 2 to 3 grams. Also, the pellets produced by owls will generally contain about twice as much bone mass than that of a falcons.
Here's an interesting fact that you may not know about falcon; unlike owls, falcons hunt during the day using their accute eyesight and sensitive hearing.
Other Types of Birds That Produce Pellets...
- and Many Types of Shorebirds (order Charadriiformes)