Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the tiniest bones

i have a pretty good collection of bones. 
a pretty awesome collection actually.
yeah, many people think it's kind of weird...picking up a dead lizard...frog...
so i can save the skeleton after it's decayed.

i've even been known to bury fish heads...only to be dug up later for the bones.

a couple of times i collected road kill.

what would you say if i told you that sam has brought me 
dead bugs...lizards, and the like...that he's found at work?!!
yeah. i'm easily pleased.  a cheap date?!  no expensive gifts needed. 
just bring me some bones...skeletons...feathers...shells...
and i'm happy.  ha!

but most of the bones i find...are in neighborhood fields...
deer, hog...carcasses dumped after the hunters have filled their freezers.  
sam and i found two dog skeletons in the field across the street a couple of years ago. 
bullet holes in the skulls. 
in this same field, we've also found raccoon bones & squirrel skulls.

i clean all the bones. 
if there's any meat on them...i let nature finish first. between the weather...ants, maggots and vultures...there's not much for me to do except sanitize them. first i use peroxide... if there's any trace of meat...i use pliers to pull it off. 
then a quick soak with diluted bleach.  rinse.  sun dry.

ANYWAY...recently,  i've had this urge to find an owl pellet.
we have a pair of barred owls that nest somewhere out back. just about every night we hear them hooting...calling to each other. not just the usual HOO-HOOT-HOO...but occasionally a louder 'monkey call'...HOO-WHAAAA-HOO. ((owl calls and sounds))  ((more sounds))
i took this picture this morning after hearing 'a murder of crows' squawking like crazy out back.  i had a feeling that they were trying to scare one of the owls away. we've seen this before. the owl was probably perched a little too close to their nests. sure enough, after following the sound of the crows...i saw this owl fly from one tree to another. to me, he looks a little frightened. the crows continued to badger him for a few more minutes...and then they all flew away. for some reason i always assumed this was the female...the smaller, more delicate looking of the two. but after looking up barred owl info...
the male is the smaller of the two.

this owl is the one we see almost every day. the larger female i guess.
so...getting back to owl pellets. they cough them up...10 hours or more after eating a yummy meal of lizard, rat, mouse, mole...they regurgitate a slimy-ish pellet of the indigestible stuff. 
undigested BoNES!

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. 
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, 
there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." 
~ Bilbo - J.R.R. Tolkien

a few weeks ago...i started searching under the limbs they usually perch on. with sam by my side...we'd scout the yard...the back woods...
for signs of where the owls like to hang out...their favorite limbs.
what signs, you may ask?  POOP!  owl poop under a tree. 
where there's lots of owl just might be lucky enough to find a pellet!
FINALLY...last week, i found one!
i was SOOOOO excited!!!!!
you can actually see fur and bones sticking out!!
so i stuck a stick in the ground to ID the spot...ran to grab gloves...and then carefully picked up my specimen for further inspection! 

dissection time!
we found another, smaller pellet nearby. maybe it split apart when it hit the ground.

using an x-acto knife and tweezers, i began to dissect the pellet.
it was packed with bones...leg bones, rib bones, claws.  
i was amazed!   and hooked!!
these are all the TINY (air-dried) bones picked out of those two pellets.
my new fascination with owl pellets...and these tiny bones....
has us searching after work...each evening...
for these little masses of regurgitated undigested owl food.

we also found what might have been the remains of a pellet that disintegrated.
sam spotted a pile of tiny assorted bones, just under a layer of pine needles. 
they look liked they've been there for a while...
sun bleached...white. and in the same area where the owls frequent.

so what am i going to do with these tiniest bones?
i'm not sure yet. after cleaning them up...
probably put them in a jar...
maybe do some miniature 'bone doodles'...or, if i can part with them...
make little  vial necklaces  like i did with the smallest armadillo & raccoon bones.

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  ~John Keats 

well, cool weather is on it's way...yay!  
leaves falling to the ground.  crunching under foot.
soon, we'll be able to venture farther out back.
when the vines and all the underbrush start to die out...
and the ticks aren't hungrily waiting...
we'll do some exploring. always something new to see...
no matter how many times we've wandered the same path...
nothing in nature stands still for very long....
nothing remains the same.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. 
~ John Muir

'til later, stay cool...laura   :]


  1. As long as the bones you collect has been long since deceased ther eis nothing wrong with it, lol. Whatever floats your boat.

  2. I think owl pellet dissecting is pretty common in high school science classes - but I never had to do it.

    Pretty cool find though!!

  3. Very cool. I've never seen an owl that wasn't caged, so this post is a treat for me.

  4. I agree with the Phoenix!
    And you surely are treating them with care and respect - their mana is intact....

    I love how you intersperse so many apt and interesting quotes through your posts.
    I may borrow some occasionally, if you don't mind ;)

  5. Good teachings!!!Laura...:)JP

  6. Phoenix Rising! i have much respect for the ALL the bones i find! weird...but i guess they DO float my boat!! :]

    Erika Jean! yep, they DO dissecting in can even buy the pellets...but i wanted to find my own. the only thing we dissected when i was in school...was a frog. (i cut school that day!) :]

    Mustang Sally! i'm glad it was a treat for you...prob most would think it a little strange...but if anyone has seen some of my older posts...on bone collecting...then maybe it would be understood that this is just another really cool way to find bones! HA! :]

    Alexia! OH YES! care & respect!! nothing less...ever! i think everything i do with the bones i find is an homage to Mother Nature!
    ...the quotes...glad u like them! feel free to take whatever you like...i just find them online myself...sooo, pass 'em on!!! :]

    Home In The Hollow! ha! class dismissed!! :]

    >>thanks all...laura/forestwalkart

  7. Dear Laura, you are a really lucky bone "hunter", such small nice owles bones i never saw.
    And with your words, nothing in nature stands still, i'm with you, in the whole life nothing stands still, always there are turns in and out of us, and by nature, we have to take care, that our little world will be the same as she is know, because too much destroings are all over the world.
    blessed be

  8. You know, it does sound rather exciting! And even tho I haven't collected too many bones, it is really interesting. You have so much to see and find. Do you ever make earrings out of the tiny bones? Check you later, "teach"!

  9. You've got way more patience than I do. I'm not sure I could get all those bones out intact. They're really interesting.

    My son's class is studying skeletal systems. They just finished dissecting owl pellets. He said they didn't find any bones in theirs. That's too bad.

  10. Laura, Laura, you're as nutty as I am - and I am so glad for that! Isn't life, in all of it's various shapes, absolutely wonderful? So many pass these "opportunities" by, or label them as "gross" or "yukky" - what those people miss. My latest find is the complete skeleton of a Sharp-shinned hawk, which we found on the roof of my husband's shop. It's mostly decomposed, but I do need to remove all those feathers. Good winter project, I'd say. Can't wait to see what you & Sam find out back!

  11. What an excellent thing to do! It's a good way of finding out about the more cryptic species around the place. The owls can spot what we can't.

    I've got a few owls on the property here, but have yet to find any pellets. I keep looking!

  12. Hexenessel, yes, they really ARE the tiniest bones! hard to believe they were 'coughed up'!! and i agree...too much destroying going on...sad. :\ :]

    Susan, no, i haven't made earrings out of the far as jewelry, i've only put them in little wear around neck! ha!
    mostly...i like to make 'pictures' with the bones... :]

    VM Sehy, yeah, i've heard they dissect the pellets in school...nowadays i guess. strange that no bones were in your son's pellets! i wonder what the owl ate...if not a little animal?? :]

    Ladybug, yeah, we nuts have to stick together! ha! wow!! a hawk skeleton!! i would save that one! and put it someplace where nothing else will drag it clean the bones... very cool find!! :]

    Snail, yes! i thought it was SO actually SEE what the owl had eaten! to find these tiny bones. WOW! most people would think i was way too excited over something like THAT! ha! (what i did...was found the spot that had the most POOP on the ground...then kept going there...2X day...they really blend in to the ground...easy to miss. keep'll find one! and then when you'll find more...) :]

    it's sure nice to know there are others out there...who can appreciate all this bone stuff...

    thanks all...for stopping by & taking the time to 'talk'.

  13. wow - that's extreme creativity :)

    i can't imagine trying to dissect something that looks like what my cat coughs up ...

    but the tiny little bones you've ended up with are very intriguing

  14. I was so fascinated reading this post Laura! Never knew about owl pellets. Love reading what you're up to :D

  15. KEL, HA!!! you have a DOES look like a hairball...and isn't very pleasant at all to look at...BUT it's the secrets within... haha...

    Susan, time you see an owl...i bet you think back...and say to yourself...hmmmm, pellets!! HA!!

    thanks you 2!! i appreciate your thoughts! :]

  16. Laura, "my friend from far and so close" ...

    Always grateful for your visits and words.

    Ah yes, climbing is virtually a "holy medicine" for many evils: fear for example! Brings health, vitality, strength of body and soul, resistance, trust ... I LOVE!

    Soon I'll post more pictures with new camera! But as I returned to work, is very rushed here ... hihi

    Ps.:Beautiful owl! I love the owls and their smarts!
    Beautiful, beautiful!

    Kiss of light in your soul.


thanks for stopping by! it's always nice to hear from fellow wanderers!