Ornithology is a branch of zoology that deals with the study of birds. In zoology classes nationwide, many teachers have included owl pellets in their laboratory teaching materials. Many scientists believe that children's exposure to such will initiate appreciation owls in the area for keeping local vermin population in check.
Owl pellets are commonplace in northern areas especially in barns that display a cacophony of hoots of different species of owls. Studying them makes the children aware of their role in the ecosystem. However, many are at odds as to where to buy owl pellets for study. Government representatives have been upset at the amount of money allegedly wasted on something as creepy as owl droppings.
Now, if you want to find free pellets, here are the best places to get them:
- In the wild. The best places to look for owl pellets are under coniferous trees. This is where most hawks, falcons and owls tend to roost after a meal. Barn owls are the easiest as they are most likely to stay in silos, barns and at cliff bases. Exotic owl pellets may be found in field grasses or in the marshes.
- The owl's roosting or nesting places. This would be best for places that have a large population of owls. You'd better look for a roosting owl during the day. Look at white splashes at the base of trees or any high ground as most probably a pellet is alongside. Barns and deserted buildings are the best places to look since there are pellet build-ups and they are protected from the weather eroding their outer cover.
When all your efforts fail, you can buy online or sift through the local directory for these establishments:
- Science kit suppliers. They will most probably ask you what kind of owl you'd like the pellet to be from so indicate which kind of owl is representative of the locale where you live. This might cost a little as these facilities keep their owl pellets in special vaults and have to pay extra for specific owl pellet hunters to make sure that their pellet identifies the kind of owl menu.
- Bird resources. These are establishments that take care of birds in their natural environment. They will have owl pellets of the owls they house in their facilities. They are cheaper than science kit suppliers but you might have to visit them and get the pellets yourself.
Owl pellets tell the story of what owls eat without dissecting the animal. They are formed when the owl eats the prey whole. This goes into the owl's gizzard for mechanical digestion but its digestive acids won't be able to digest this stuff chemically. The owl's muscular stomach molds these indigestible materials into a pellet. The pellet consists of hard objects - like skeletons of prey, inside while the softer substances - like their fur or feathers, cover it. It represents an owl's single meal and is representative of how healthy and balanced a local ecosystem is.