Thursday, February 16, 2012

Owl pellet at Larsen Sanctuary

I spent several hours hiking about 8.75 kilometers of Connecticut Audubon Society's 155-acre Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary adjacent to our Center at Fairfield yesterday morning and afternoon, finding and recording all of the life that I could along the way. I covered nearly the entire sanctuary, not passing through the same area more than once. I tallied 30 (or 31) species of birds along with spotting or finding signs of 10 mammal species. I only saw evidence of that 31st species as I found this owl pellet near the end of my hike.

This photo was taken after I had picked it up and pulled it apart a bit. It was approximately 1.5 inches long and quite fresh and compact initially. Take a look at all the tiny bones in there among a lot of fur to see if you can identify specific parts. It looks like you could piece together a small mouse. From the size and composition of the pellet and its prey, I believe it came from an Eastern Screech Owl. That would also fit in with the habitat and location that it was found in - wet woodlands.

Some of the common bird species were seen in high numbers. In particular, Tufted Titmice seemed to be everywhere as I encountered a few groups of 6, 8, or even more individuals foraging together, totaling 36. There was also a fair number of White-breasted Nuthatch for the area at 14, and quite a few Dark-eyed Junco adding up to 72. I know many people have wondered where their feeder friends are in this warm winter, and the answer may be no further than your own local forest patch.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

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