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Rule of thumb: the larger the pellet, the more abundant and potentially diverse the prey.
What’s the difference between pellets from the Northwest and the Southwest United States? In general, over 80% of the barn owl diet is voles. Each season greatly impacts the diet of all animals.
For barn owls, winter primarily narrows the prey to rodents and birds. This time of year presents the most minor variety of prey content.
As Spring unfolds, the animal kingdom follows suit with budding flowers and plant life and produces an abundance of smaller mammals, insects, and rodent populations are booming. During that time of year, we will find fascinating and colorful exoskeletons of a variety of beetles, grasshoppers, ladybugs, and other insects in owl pellets.
This continues through the Summer months. Pellets gathered in the Summer months from all regions are probably the most diverse by our observation. As Spring-born mammals gain size, they become more common prey to other predators such as coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and raptors like the hawk and horned owl.
By Fall, many rivers and creek beds dry up in the Southwest and add crawfish to the diet of a barn owl. The owl has also been known to order a fresh entree of snakes, lizards, and even frogs — any night-active reptile is fair game.