Anyone else having a problem with an owl?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by LadyShred, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. LadyShred

    LadyShred Songster

    Jan 24, 2009
    First of all, we keep our chickens penned 24/7. We do have a 5' chain link fence, but they can fly right over it. Too many neighborhood dogs/predators walking around to let my sweet babies be at risk. The majority of our chickens are housed in a large pen in the center of our yard and they are fine. We DO have about 6 roosters paired off with a hen in 6 different pens throughout our yard. Their roosts strtch from one side of their cage to the other, and of course they love to roost next to the wire.

    We are in the process of building a large pen specifically for them, but until we can get it done . . . we have to deal with an owl.

    Recently, we've noticed a TON of feathers all over the ground around our coops. These mainly appear in the morning. We've also heard them squawk (as if something has them) at night which scares the crap out of me everytime I hear it. They are never injured, but the poor things have bald spots all over them where something pulled out their feathers, sometimes from the roots, sometimes cut off (looks almost like scissors cut their feathers). I KNOW it's an owl because I can hear the hoots outside, but it always waits for me to go away before it tries to get one.

    Any ideas? Should I hide somewhere with a shotgun and wait for it? lol

    Has anyone else had an experience like this?
  2. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    Owls and birds of prey are usually protected species. Please consult your state laws before doing anything rash.

    We have plenty of owls around here and I free range my chickens. i don't think that normally an owl would mess with an adult chicken in broad daylight although I'd always coop the birds at night when owls normally hunt.

    I'd pin the blame for the pulled out feathers on roosters during the mating process. 1 roo for each 10-12 hens is normal to prevent over-mating hens. One hen for each roo in a pen would be ugly!

    That's how you get abused hens. Hope this helps and... [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2009
  3. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Do you have a coop for them to go into when it gets dark? An owl can't get them at night if they aren't out in the open. You didn't say anything about a coop, so I'm wondering. Even a movable tractor with chicken wire and tarp over the top would prevent owls from getting them at night.

    We have lots of owls, our chickens free range in the daytime, and go into a coop at night. There are two enclosed runs covered with chicken wire, and with two roofed areas, that they can access until they are let out for the day. We've never lost one to an owl, in over 10 years at this location.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  4. Timbercrete

    Timbercrete In the Brooder

    Feb 20, 2009
    Moorpark, CA
    Quote:Sitting with your shotgun makes your chickens a protected species also. I think your level of protection will be greater.[​IMG]
  5. Gercarson

    Gercarson Chirping

    Oct 13, 2008
    I've had owls kill my peafowl so I know that they would go after adult chickens. But, in the pens as described, I would have a tendency to think raccoon before owl.
  6. LadyShred

    LadyShred Songster

    Jan 24, 2009
    We've had problems with raccoons, foxes, and opossums before. None will dare come into our fence with our dog around. She's very protective over our yard and has done well at keeping predators out and far away.

    And the feathers are pulled from awkward areas, like under the neck and on the wings and tail. Some of the tail feathers are clipped off. That's my concern.

    And we're in the process of building the new, larger coop for them, that's why their in temporary pens. We just have them in a circle cage with a roost from side to side and sturdy top to keep them out of the elements. (all cages are different sizes, anywhere between 2 feet and 3 1/2 feet in diameter depending on who's in the cage). They were all sharing a pen until the roosters got old enough to start fighting (games). Don't want none of that.
  7. Dread Pirate Roberts

    Dread Pirate Roberts Songster

    Jan 20, 2009
    If the problem is that the chickens are roosting too close to the wire and something is reaching through, then why not just place some sort of obstruction to keep the chickens further away from the wire?

    Quote:Sitting with your shotgun makes your chickens a protected species also. I think your level of protection will be greater.[​IMG]

    Housing your chickens in a properly designed and constructed coop is what makes them a "protected species". [​IMG]

    Sitting with your shotgun only makes you a...nevermind. [​IMG]
  8. lisahaschickens

    lisahaschickens Songster

    Feb 25, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    where I used to live in California, I had a neighbor that kept chickens (this was before I had them) and he lost over 100 birds to a Great Horned Owl (that's what you have if you hear "hoo hoo hoo" - they're actually the only ones that make that classic sound) before he even figured out what was going on. It hid in a tree and dive-bombed them when he wasn't looking. Anyway... I believe he called the parks service to find out his options and I think they came and took it away or maybe they killed it for him.

    Anyway, that's my suggestion - call the parks service or animal control to find out your options and hopefully someone will come take care of it for you free of charge. Great Horned Owls are incredible predators and will take off with cats and even small dogs if given the opportunity. However, like someone said above... depending on where you are located, they could be protected, so I would be safe and make a call. Even people who accidentally kill protected species get in big trouble these days (rancher who poisoned coyotes which were then eaten by bald eagles which then died - recently pardoned by G.W. Bush.... and professional golfer who hit a ball toward a migratory bird on his course to scare it and make it move and "accidentally" hit and killed it - in big trouble).
  9. colby318

    colby318 got 'dottes?

    Jul 14, 2008
    Stamping Ground, KY
    I saw that your pen was 5 feet high. Can you raise the height a little with poultry or deer netting and then close over the top with it also? We bought the netting at Lowe's. It's very reasonably priced and we secured it with zip ties. We've had an owl in the coop and two hawk attacks in the run before we closed in the top.

    Colby in Kentucky
  10. dave_Cash69

    dave_Cash69 Songster

    Feb 15, 2009
    Quote:Sitting with your shotgun makes your chickens a protected species also. I think your level of protection will be greater.[​IMG]

    I agree 100%

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