I have good news! People can now buy owl pellets on the Internet. Each pellet is wrapped in foil and individually heat sanitized. The prices offered are very reasonable.
What are Owl Pellets?
Perhaps you’ve never heard of “owl pellets” before. I certainly hadn’t until four weeks ago. Yet every owl produces them. Owls are nocturnal birds of prey and eat meat, but their diet varies widely. The small Screech Owl feasts mostly on insects, while the Barn Owl hunts small rodents and shrews. Their larger relatives, like the Eagle Owl, enjoys a diet of hares, game birds and young foxes. There are even species of owls like the Asian Fish Owl that eats fish.
Because owls lack teeth, they swallow their prey whole and this presents a problem. The owl’s digestive juices can’t break down the bones, beak, fur, feathers, teeth and claws found in their regular diet. Nor can they excrete it, because a sharp claw or tooth would rip up the owl’s digestive track.
What’s the solution to this problem? Owl pellets.
About 6-10 hours after the owl eats a meal, a smooth capsule forms in the gizzard around the indigestible remains of the rodent, or other prey. A few hours later, this pellet is regurgitated. Owls throw up the remains of their last meal and then start hunting again. Finding owl pellets near a tree indicates an owl is living overhead.
Who Buys Owl Pellets?
An obvious question is “Who in the world buys owl pellets?” The answer makes perfect sense: biology teachers do.
What the Pellets Show
Dissecting a owl pellet yields clues about the owl’s diet. In addition to the sterilized pellets, these same companies provide charts to help the student and teacher identify the skulls and bones of the prey.
The pellet’s contents also teach a little bit about the ecological niche owls fill. Owls are a valuable help in controlling certain pests. For instance, in Florida, Sugar cane plantation owners put out nesting boxes to attract Barn Owls, in order to keep the wild mouse population in check.
A Christian Principle: What Goes in Will Come Out
So what do owls spitting out owl pellets have to do with godliness? Plenty.
Like owls, Christians frequently “regurgitate” what they’ve been mentally feeding upon. The shows and music we entertain ourselves with affects our moods and attitudes. Likewise, people we spend time with influence us.
My moral compass can swerve a little off course just by indulging myself with too much questionable TV. Any bad mood or selfish thinking I harbor tends to leak out. If I brood too long about a personal injury, my whole emotional world darkens. Any outside influences I open myself to affect me emotionally and spiritually.
Often the first warning sign shows up in what I say. Have you ever been ashamed of something that came out of your mouth? I have. It can be very embarrassing, because people know I’m a Christian. On my good days, I swallow my pride and apologize immediately. On my bad days I sit in embarrassed silence.
And on my best days, I haven’t filled my mind with worldly trash in the first place, so nothing bad leaks out.
In Matthew 15, our Savior taught about personal defilement.
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand.
11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?
18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
20 These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:10, 15-20)
I’ve discovered that when my heart is right, what leaks out of my mouth honors my Savior. Compassionate thoughts lead to compassionate words and actions. Thankfulness breeds contentment.
What I allow my eyes to view matters. What I think about matters too.
Because I am a talker, my inner world often spills out. Perhaps yours does too. So as a Christian, what have you been regurgitating? What do your words reveal about you?
Here’s a website selling the owl pellets and all the other things you’ll need for this fun activity. MHP endorsement: “Owl pellet dissection is a great activity for the kids during family reunions.” (Okay, I’m kidding, but check out this amazing website anyway.) (Click here.)
Despite Harry Potter’s example, here are the “Top 10 Reasons You Don’t Want an Owl for a Pet.” (click)