On Sunday afternoon, Canarsie Park visitors stopped by the Owl Pellet Discovery event hosted by NYC Urban Park Rangers, where they informed residents of owl facts, particularly about owl pellets, which are regurgitated portions of an owl’s diet.
“Today we’re doing owl pellet dissections,” said Urban Park Ranger Chow. “Owl pellets are the regurgitations of owls, and we use these owl pellets to teach people about the different things that owls eat, such as their prey, like rats, mice and squirrels. We can break apart these owl pellets and look at what they have been eating recently.”
Owls are different from other birds because they swallow their prey entirely, but they can’t digest the prey’s bones and fur, which are stored in a second stomach called the gizzard and are eventually regurgitated, producing the pellet.
Although dissecting the regurgitated food of owls is not a usual occurrence, many of the park visitors enjoyed the experience and were able to learn something new from it.
“It felt pretty weird because it’s vomit and something you don’t do every day,” said Tiffany, one of the attendees at last weekend’s event. “But it was fun, since we never got to do it in 8th grade due to COVID.”
As people visited, they learned more about owls and how the city has a secret wildlife side.
“A lot of people don’t know that New York City actually has owls, partially because they’re nocturnal and look for prey while we’re asleep in our homes,” said Chow. “They’re a rare site in New York City, even for us Rangers. So it was cool showing people and teaching them about the different wildlife that lives close to their neighborhood, which includes owls and their diets.”