Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Owl Pellets

Recently I soaked 7 Barn Owl Pellets from a barn in Maulden and separated out the bones. The plastic paint tray from Staples (£1.49!) is ideal for separating out the contents of the pellets. I can see an assortment of Vole, Mouse & Shrew skulls amidst the bones. I'll try to find time to identify them to species over the next week or so. The pellets on the right are a few of a pile of Tawny Owl pellets that I have yet to sort out!

Whilst sorting out the Barn Owl pellets, this little moth suddenly fluttered out of the bag. I would need to confirm this, but I think that it may be the Skin Moth, Monopis laevigella, which is one of several members of a family that feed on owl pellets, dead animals and the detritus in birds' nests. Although the adults normally fly through the summer, keeping the pellets in my study over the winter may have confused this one!

[Update: Thanks to Skev who has pointed me in the direction of the Case-bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) which seems to fit the photo and which has been found in owl pellets (see Skev's comments). I should get a confirmation from our Micro-Moth Recorder in due course]


  1. Hello Steve,

    The micro is definitely one of the Tineids, but I'm sure it is not Skin Moth. Case-bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) looks more likely, and this has been recorded from owl pellets. See:

    How long do you have to soak the pellets for BTW?

  2. Hi Skev,

    Thanks so much for your input - the photo certainly seems to fit...and it's a Bedfordshire specimen, too! :-) I'll put a note on the Blog and send the specimen off to our Micro-moth recorder. I think I may have been thrown by a moth that floated to the surface - drowned - when I soaked my first pellets...the white patch on the wing looked very much like a Monopsis species...I'll put the remains of that one in a tube, too!

    I find that, even with very dry pellets, you only need to leave them for 20 minutes or so, if that.

    Thanks again,