Practice English Speaking&Listening with: WHAT DID I FIND?! - Dissecting Snowy Owl Pellets!

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- Now before we get into the grit and the grime

of pulling these things apart, first I think it's important

that we answer the question: what exactly is an owl pellet?

- Here, let's pick one up. This is puke.

- [Coyote] Like bleh puke?

- [Mario] Owl puke.

(film projector rattles)

(loud percussive music)

(rocks breaking)

- Okay. Well, I'm sure you guys are wondering

where in the world did Coyote and Mario possibly get

a giant satchel of owl pellets?

Um, Mario, do you want to explain this?

- Ah yes. Let me tell you a little tale about Nieve

(upbeat music begins)

First of all, to understand

why we have this baggie of owl pellets,

you got to understand who Neive is.

Nieve was born on the cold arctic tundra

and against all odds,

she survived the harsh bitter cold Northern winters.

Once she was old enough to migrate South for the winter,

she decided to snowbird down in Columbus right up by the dam

because the rocks gave her a good vantage point

to hunt for food.

Then one day some birdwatchers saw her

and posted it up on eBird.

Overnight, she became a celebrity.

(camera shutter clicking)

That's when Pete from the Nature Conservancy

hopped on a Zoom call with Coyote and Mario

who wanted to film an episode on Snowy Owls

for the Brave Wilderness YouTube channel.

And Nieve was like, "no way I don't want to be famous."

"I just want to live my life."

But Pete wanted to know what Nieve was eating.

So he sent Coyote and Mario to collect her pellets.

Now because Coyote doesn't like the cold.

He made Mario do the dirty work

of suffering the freezing agony

as he watched the owl day after day after day,

waiting for it to barf up pellets.

Seriously. For like two months,

Mario frozen, butt off filming Nieve

and waiting for her to barf.

Then one day when it conveniently fit Coyote's schedule,

he let Mario come in from the cold.

And that is where the bag of owl pellets came from.

(upbeat percussive music begins)

- Wow. That was an epic tale.

- Thank you.

- And big thanks to Nieve for providing us

with all these delightful looking owl pellets.

Now what we're going to do next

is actually dissect these owl pellets.

And there's a reason we're going to do this.

Pete from the Nature Conservancy is very curious

as to what the owl that's living in this area

is actually consuming.

Now before we get into the grit and the grime

of pulling these things apart,

first I think it's that we answer the question.

What exactly is an owl pellet?

- That's a great question Coyote.

Here, let's pick one up.

Now at first glance, you're going to look at this

and you're gonna say Mario that's...

- Poop?

- Poop.

- It looks like poop.

- Looks like poop, but here, grab this.

- Okay.

- Give it a smell.

- A smell?

- Sniff it.

- Ooh. All right.

Wow. Ah, it actually smells like absolutely nothing.

It has no scent whatsoever.

- No scent. Of course, poop would have a scent, right?

- Poop stinks.

- That's because this is puke.

- Like bleh puke?

- Owl puke.

The terminology for this, scientific terminology,

is regurgitation.

So this is the regurgitated pieces

of an owls meal that are not digestible by the owl,

such as fur, which you can see already,

bones, feathers, maybe teeth maybe claws.

So essentially the owl's stomach has two parts.

When the owl eats a prey item, like a rodent whole, right?

The stomach will separate the pieces.

The tissue and soft parts go in one direction.

The bones and feathers and indigestible parts

go another direction.

And that is compacted into this dense form of an owl pellet.

- And then they puke it out?

- And then they puke it out.

- So here's a question.

If they puke out the pellets, do owls still also poop?

- That's a great question.

Yes. They definitely still have very liquidy poop

as do most birds.

So they just, bloop, squirt it out.

- So solids in one direction, liquids in another direction.

- Yes.

- That's crazy, so just to reiterate,

the owl stomach basically

divides its meal in two different directions.

And now these owls have a wide variety

when it comes to their diets.

They primarily feast on rodents like mice and voles,

maybe even weasels, but they will eat fish or birds.

- Right. And the reason why Pete wants us to dissect these

is because you can actually determine what the owl eating

by looking at all these parts.

- Okay. Well, before we start dissecting these pellets,

I figured we'd make this a little bit more interesting

by turning it into a competition.

- Of course.

- So what I did is I brought along a die.

- Okay.

- Now here's what we're gonna do.

I'm going to roll it. You call high or low.

- Uh, High.

- Oh, six.

- Ooh, that's strong.

- I'm probably not going to beat that,

but now I will roll. Two.

- Oh.

- Because you rolled a six you won

which means you get to pick the first pellet.

- Okay.

Uh, naturally I'm going for this big boy right here.

- Ooh, all right. Size may or may not matter with pellets.

- I'm gonna actually go for one that is smaller

because it's more dense.

I'm thinking there could be something good in there.

We'll see.

Alright, next pellet goes to you.

- Okay. This other one right here.

- Okay. It's also sizable.

Uh, I'm going to stick with my theory

That dense is better.

- Ooh, you know I'm going for this one.

- Okay. Yeah, that's a good one.

I probably should've pick that one.

All right, I guess that leaves me with the last

slightly fuzzy fluffy looking pellet.

- Uh-huh, Uh-huh

- There we go. We've each got three, owl pellets.

Now here's how we're gonna make this competition work.

The person who has either the most complete skeleton

whether that's a rodent, a bird, or a fish at the end,

or the most number of skulls will be deemed the winner.

- Okay. And what's the prize.

- Oh, I knew you were waiting for the prize.

- There's always a prize

- There's gotta be a prize.

The prize is that if you win,

you get your very own music video at the end of this video.

- What? That's epic. - That's right.

A music video. Who doesn't want a music video, right?

- Ah, I'm all for it. Let's go.

- Okay. So if you guys are ready

let the owl pellet dissection montage begin.

(trumpet fanfare plays)

(upbeat music begins)

- Look at that.

This right here is most of a skull.

So the brain and the eyes, obviously missing,

but the eye sockets, the front teeth,

all of the main teeth are still in place.

I would guess this is probably

either a field mouse or a vole.

(upbeat music continues)

- Look at that. Two. Two to lower mandibles.

- [Mario] Wow.

- That is all undigested mouse fur

or some sort of vermin.

- [Mario] Look at this skull.

- [Coyote] Oh Wow.

Yeah, that might be the best skull of the day right there.

- So Coyote, if you were like an owl and regurgitated items,

I would predict what you would find in your coyote pellet.

- Okay. What would be my coyote pellet?

- Cheeseburgers.

- Yeah.

- Doritos.

- Probably.

- Some Sour Patch Kids.

- That's unquestionable.

Yeah. Chips, candy and cheeseburgers.

That sounds about right.

(trumpet fanfare plays)

- Well, it took us about an hour, which I'm sure

the editors cut down into a really nice little succinct

one minute owl pellet dissection montage.

- Uh-huh

- Hopefully you guys enjoyed that.

So now it's time to take a look

at what came out of the pellets.

- Okay. Why don't you go first?

- Okay. In all fairness,

it was a lot more difficult than I thought.

I didn't get a full skeleton,

I got a bunch of random bones,

but I did manage to pull five skulls.

- Oh, that's pretty good.

- Uh-huh

- Ah, man, you beat me there.

Cause I only got about three and a half skulls

and a bunch of miscellaneous bones.

- Okay. So technically I think that makes me the winner.

- Hang on a second. I also did create this.

- What? What is that? A fur mouse?

- It's a, yeah, it's a little rodent.

- I gotta give it to you.

I'm going to default and say that you win

partially based on the fact

that you created this fur rodent.

I didn't even know that was a thing.

But Mario did spend the past two months

out in the freezing cold, filming the owl.

- So...

- Well thank you.

- I think you win the music video.

- Yes. All right. I'm going to be on MTV.

- This was fun though. Wasn't it?

- It was. It was a little messy, a little chaotic

but you know, that science for you.

- It is, and what's cool is that if you guys go out

and find some owl pellets of your own,

you can do this dissection in your own kitchen.

Make sure to wear a bandana or maybe some eye covering,

but it is a super cool way

to see exactly what owls are eating.

- I'm Coyote Peterson.

- I'm Mario Aldecoa.

- Be brave.

- Stay fluffy.

- We'll see you on the next adventure.

And without further ado,

I think it's time to now debut of "Where the Owl Goes."

(guitar strumming)

(peaceful flute music begins)

(male voice singing)

(peaceful flute music continues)

(peaceful flute music ends)

(upbeat piano music begins)

- Snowy owls are large, beautiful and charismatic birds.

If you happen to see one in the wild, consider it

an incredible life moment.

If you have the desire to dissect an owl pellet,

it's a fun and educational way

to discover what the hooters in your area have been eating.

However, to make the experience completely sanitary,

it's always best wrap the pellets

in aluminum foil and bake them in the oven

at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is if your parents

will let you put owl puke in the oven.

Having a snowy owl winter over in central Ohio

means that we have the right natural spaces in our community

that allow these birds to feel safe and protected.

To learn more about the birding opportunities in your area,

make sure to visit nature.org/bravewilderness.

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