Bill Brenden is our new winner of ‘Where in the Conejo’!
The June 1 “Where in the Conejo” contest photo featured the detritus under an owl’s nest or frequent perching spot, including several rodent skulls and a disintegrating owl pellet (upper right). Of the correct entrants, Bill Brenden was selected at random as the winner of a $25 gift certificate. Congratulations, Bill, and thanks to all who entered!
Owls lack teeth, so they swallow their prey whole (rodents, in this case). Unlike humans, they have a gizzard to process and separate the indigestible materials such as fur and bones. The owl then regurgitates those materials as a pellet. Wildlife biologists can learn a lot by dissecting these pellets, including identifying the owl species that produced it.
One of the possible contest answers mentioned rodenticide, whose involvement can’t be ruled out because sickened and dying rodents are often easier for predators to catch—one way rodenticide enters the wildlife food chain readily. However, if it were just poison that killed the animals in the photo, it’s unlikely they would be in a group with an owl pellet nearby.
This photo was taken near the Canyon Overlook Trail, which is accessible from the Santa Rosa Valley. To learn more about the area, please see our maps and descriptions of Wildwood trails.