Bird of Prey Pellets in local barn!

I nipped up to my neighbour’s this morning to collect some hay for my goats. She asked me to collect it from her barn, which is actually level with the end of my garden. I have never been in here before. Whilst I was wheelbarrowing the hay, she said she thought she had something roosting in the barn and would I look at it. She showed me the high beam where it has obviously been sitting.

There were a lot of white droppings and my first instinct was then to look directly underneath so see if I could see anything else. To my utter amazement and delight, the area underneath was littered with pellets…. about 20 – 30 of them! My mind was buzzing with possibilities….. tawny?… barn owl?… but they had not noticed anything perch during daylight hours… but something was using this apex of the barn as a regular perch or roost.

 I looked around the area…. I know tawnies are here, but I don’t think they would roost in a barn, more likely in a tree. Then what about a barn owl? Certainly know they might roost in a place like this and there are lots of rodents around … but would they not be there during the day? It is a pretty exposed perch… very high up and the barn is only half clad. Loads of questions were running through my mind. The perch is inside the barn, at the top part of the triangle end of the barn in the picture below.

I raced  home with my ‘bootie’ and placed two of the pellets in a tray of hot water and began to gently tease them apart. There was certainly a lot of hair in them and then my heart leapt…. some bones!!! Yes, I had a couple of jaw bones of voles and mice and some femurs and ribs. So, it must be a bird of prey surely. I returned back to the barn with my Bushnell and I  set it up high on a beam. I did my best to point it at the perch, but the barn is large, semi-open and the perch is in the triangular end piece.

I returned home and took these pictures…..

 I have now dissected about 4 pellets… loads of fur… almost ‘felt-like’ consistency to the pellets, and lots of small bones and lower jaws… but no skulls. These could point towards a kestrel…. they do not eat their food whole, but rip it apart… also they have a stronger digestive system than the owls, so more of the bones are digested.

What do you think…. anyone out there who is knowledgeable about such pellets… I have about 20 more in a carrier bag… much to the disgust of my two kids, who think I have really lost it now! I will collect the Bushnell tomorrow and see if it returned to its perch tonight.

If it is a kestrel, then may be I should mount my second kestrel box on this barn… would certainly be easier than the tree I had planned to put it in. Also, the barn is just about feasible to wire a camera to, so I could live stream from it. Just because a kestrel uses a barn to roost, would it be more likely to then use a nesting box placed nearby?? Lots of questions and I would welcome any help. You can use the ‘comment’ facility on this post to let me know what you think.