Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Snowy Owl Upchucks

 On a birding expedition yesterday, our group was able to see two Snowy Owls, each one special. This owl was seen sitting on a mound in the meadow at Portugal Cove South, where it has been seen before. We stopped to enjoy the creature.
While watching this young bird with a lot of streaking, it suddenly expelled a pellet. When an owl is eating, its digestive system separates the edible materials from the non-edible bones, teeth, fur and feathers. The indigestibles of the prey get sent to the gizzard where they are compressed in the shape of the gizzard.
 After compression, the pellet moves into the glandular stomach which produces digestive juices. When all of the nutritious value has been extracted from the food, the pellet is ejected. This process can take from ten to twelve hours. This event often signals the bird is ready to eat again.
Regurgitation  often occurs when the owl is sitting on its favorite roost. . Just before expulsion, the owl takes on a pained expression and the eyes close. As these photos show .... just as the pellet is being expelled, the neck stretches upward and forward, the beak opens, and the pellet just drops out. It was special to watch this happen.

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