|Tom Gaynor, a White Memorial friend,|
found this mysterious item at his bird feeder the other day.
Can you guess what it is and who left it?
Take a closer look at the pellet photographed above. This pellet has small stones and vegetative material in it. So, what bird would eat small stones and vegetation. A pretty hungry one, you might think! Some birds have adapted tough beaks to break open the seeds but other birds have not. The stones aid in the crushing of food in the crop and some vegetation like tough seeds need a little bit more grinding to extract the food inside that tough seed coat. Or sometimes these stones could also help break down even tougher food items like bones. So, what are your clues so far - the bird is eating mostly vegetation and seeds, but does not have a tough enough bill to break open seeds like sunflower seeds so it needs to also eat small stones.
Let's look at the size of the pellet next. This pellet measures about 3 centimeters long and about 1.5 cm wide. So that would have be to a relatively larger bird to make a pellet that size. So, not a house finch, sparrow, or goldfinch. Probably not a Northern Cardinal either. Any guesses yet, we've learned a lot so far...
This pellet is the calling card of an American Crow! Crows have highly variable diet and can eat both vegetable and meat, which makes them an omnivore. The stones help them break down the seeds and bones that they eat. Take a closer look around your bird feeder next time to see what evidence you find to tell you what is visiting it. Learning what you can there will help you figure things out when you observe something on your next venture into the woods.