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Of Owls and Blind Snakes [Mar. 6th, 2010|01:29 am]
learn_ecology

learn_ecology

[stainedfeathers]
Heyla all!

I have a story for you all that I thought I would share because I thought, in my ecology abd bird geekiness, that it was really awesome.

Anyone who knows me knows I love birds and Im in a masters program studying character rigging with a focus on creatures- further my thesis regards bird wings. So when I saw the trailer for Legend of the Guardians I let up a great squee of utter happiness and proceeded to watch it repeatedly. Then finding out it was a book series called Guardians of Ga'hoole I looked it up on Amazon.com. Fortunately amazon has a look inside function so I started reading.

Well the first few pages tell of an owl hatching with its family around. Said family included a nursemaid,a blind snake, that took care of the nest. The blindsnake took great pride in the fact that her kind proudly served owls and kept their nests free of pests that would hurt the children. They also regarded owls as somewhat superior because they hacked up some of their food "waste" in the form of clean pellets and their droppings were cleaner than other birds. Being the geek I was and having never heard of this I went searching for images of owl scat. I'm used to my pet birds droppings (anywhere from semi-solid to watery as well, water, depending on what he'd eaten 30 minutes before) so seeing more solidified droppings from a bird interested me (what, are they more like coon poo or rabbit poo?). Most of that sounded something like writers fancy or a lot of embellisment. I couldn't find info on owl feces, only owl pellets, so that question for now will remain unanswered.

HOWEVER, I DID find out about blind snakes! Turns out blind snakes are rather well known for doing just as the book said. Screech owls will often eat blind snakes, but they will also take them and put them in their nests so that they eat the larve from attracted flies and other pests. This vastly decreases the mortality of the chicks. More info here (Granted, the owls in the book are Barn and I only could find documentation of Screech owls doing this, but still cool! Barn owls might do this too but I couldn't find info for any but Screech.)

I thought I should share because it was awesome and we don't get a whole lot of posts here. ^^

Birds Rock. So Do Snakes.
(Damnit, I want to go hiking now...)
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-28 05:53 am (UTC)

Owls

I have a wildlfe biology degree and am always researching and trying to learn more about any ornithological field. I was also intrigued by legend of the guardians and I ended up seeking out and reading the books. I think the books are great, and while the author tries to include a lot of accurate info about owls, a lot of it is embellishment (obviously). I think the symbiotic relationship between owls and blind snakes is restricted to screech owls.
And I have worked with both wild and captive owls, and FYI, they're poop is the same as any other raptor.
Yeah, they "yarp" pellets, but the parts of the animal that they digest is processed, and the waste excreted in the same way as other raptors - as liquid white excrement with a small amount of dark more 'solid' parts.
A neat fact you may or may not know: owls and other raptors do not drink water - they get all their fluid requirements from the meat they eat :)
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