By JEFFREY CULLEN-DEAN
Naturalists at Chattahoochee Bend State Park held a program to discuss owl pellets and what owls eat on Saturday.
Children who attended the class were given owl pellets wrapped in foil about the size of a chicken egg.
Reba Brumbeloe, a naturalist at CBSP, unwrapped one of the pellets and explained to the class what they were looking at.
Owl pellets are regurgitated masses consisting of bones, teeth, and feathers – parts of prey that cannot be digested by the owls.
“You can see bones on the outside,” Brumbeloe said. “Everything they can’t eat forms into an owl pellet.”
The kids broke the pellets in half and used toothpicks to dig out the bones to figure out what the owl ate.
The pieces were sorted and examined, then compared to images on a chart, which identified the bone that had been found and what animal it was from. Remnants of birds, voles and shrews were found in the pellets.
“We’re dissecting these pellets to make sure the owls are eating the right things,” Brumbeloe said.
According to Brumbeloe, the pellets are checked to track the presence of disease and poisons in the owls’ diet. The poison used to exterminate rats can harm owls after they have consumed the prey.
Brumbeloe said the program helps educate kids on what owl pellets are and teaches anatomy as there are similarities between human anatomy and other animals.
“Even in mammals they learn about some of the same things we have,” she said.
For more information on Chattahoochee Bend State Park and its programs, go to www.gastateparks.org/ChattahoocheeBend .