Nesting Materials and Pellets
Yuck! That's Gross!
Owlets in the nest box sleeping on broken up pellets! And Yes...It stinks too!
The nesting materials are usually the previous year’s leftover pellets as well as some new pellets the female has recently regurgitated. Apparently, this will make the nest a little bit softer as she prepares for laying her eggs.
I was listening to a video clip by Robert Fuller, who has a Barn Owl site in the UK, and he was asked about what he does with the pellets in his nests after the babies have fledged. He said it gets used by the moths in that area and basically recycled. I thought that was really cool. He said the only time he empties out the nest is if it gets too much nesting material built up and then he gets rid of some of it. We don’t know if something like that happens around here because we haven’t been watching long enough to notice.
There are various schools of thought of what to do about cleaning out the debris after nesting season but from what we have read, it is good to at least clean out a portion of the debris or all of it. We had removed some of the nesting material in our nest box previously, but this year has taught us a lot and we’ve learned that we actually needed to remove much more than we had originally thought. So, make sure you remove most of the material. If you clean it completely out, you should add about ¾” layer of wood chips or wood mulch to keep the eggs from rolling around and possibly breaking.
This was very interesting information I found on the owl pellets. “Owl pellets are made out of the indigestible parts of their prey – bones, fur, claws, and teeth…regurgitating pellets, which pass through the bird’s gullet on the way back up, scour and cleanse the digestive tract, removing pathogens and keeping the bird healthy.” Pellet.com Blog