We have a screech owl that has taken up residence in our trees. I was in the house and could hear this new noise outside the front door. It was quiet-then the air was pierced with this garbled skeeereech. A half a minute passed and it came again. And again. So I checked it out and there in the pine tree was this owl. When he let out his call it was like he was pumped up full of air and then blows a gasket and kinda pops up from his feet to his head and this skeeereech comes forth. It’s true. It is kinda creepy. But cool too.
The screecher is smaller but just as intense looking as the bigger owls that I have run This isn’t the first time an owl has become a nightly neighbor. We get hoot owls a lot. They are the coolest of birds. In the early morning, I mean really early like 3-4a.m. they begin to hoot in the trees. I think they are saying thanks to the night for giving up mice and little night critters to feed on. I know they eat each night because under the trees each day there are new “owl pellets” waiting to be crunched under my foot.
Owl pellets? What is an owl pellet? Oh, they are the lovely leftovers that an owl, well the polite description is that an owl regurgitates the fur and bones after they eat a critter and that fur and bones create this little egg shaped gray pellet. I, being just shy of not being too politically correct, say the owl pukes up the leftovers. And that is what goes crunch under my foot. Such a delight!
My nephew once told me that he knew a guy who collected these pellets and then took them apart and rebuilt the skeletons of the little animals that the owl gobbled down. I know there are thousands of ways to fill your time with hobbies. Cars, stamps, stained glass, crossword puzzles to name a few standard hobbies. But going out and picking up owl regurgitation, dissecting and recreating the skeletal remains of that regurgitation? Not my cup of tea. However…
If you are going to have a hobby you might as well have one that you enjoy and that you can readily get parts and pieces for. So my pea pickin’ brain of course wondered if there was a market for the little gray goodies that littered the space under a few of the trees in my yard. Enter E-bay. You guessed it, you can buy owl pellets on E-bay. I typed in “owl pellets,” hit search and low and behold 181 offers of owl regurgitation popped up. You can buy one or five or ten or more. Oh and they are sized. They are also sterilized as to not have extra tiny live critters in your dead little critter litter. You can get a book about this hobby and you can even get a kit with a bunch of bones already to be put together. Seriously!
Okay so what did I want to do next? Yep, I wanted to sell a few of the little nuggets. Gross? Yes. But educational too. I discovered you can’t just pop out under a tree, pick the goo up, sell and ship them. No, you have to de-bacterial-ize aka sterilize them by putting them in the oven. That might have been a deal breaker for me, but I was saved from baking the goodies like so many cookies on my cookie sheet when I discovered that apparently my gray owl wads are not big enough to lure in the true regurgitation rebuilders. Seems the Nevada owls that have made this spot their home don’t eat and then dispose of large enough critters to entice the pellet rebuilders. How dare my owls not puke up big enough pellets to appease this unique crowd!
But what this has done has given me pause to stop, look and hunt for bigger pellets instead of just crunching them as I merrily go on my way. Hey everyone has a hobby. Mine, at least for the next little while is going to be to hunt and peck until I come up with a monster pellet. Maybe even one shaped like Elvis. I bet that would bring a pretty penny on E-bay and it would truly be a masterpiece.
Trina lives in Eureka. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org Really!