Can you tell me what killed my chicken?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by banananutmuffin, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. banananutmuffin

    banananutmuffin In the Brooder

    My kids are devastated. :(

    It was a pullet, ranging in my backyard which has a 4-ft tall fence. This attack happened during daylight, probably around 3-4pm.

    Carcass was still there. Feathers were plucked and laying around body. Head missing, some innards (heart, liver) eaten, but gizzard and parts of intestines still there. One wing off, picked clean at joint. The other wing intact, as if the predator ate only half the chicken and didn't bother to flip it over for the other half. Half breast and half ribcage gone.

    Chicken body was found close to fence and close to coop, but not inside the run or the coop (chickens have access to backyard from the run when we open the gate to the run). The rest of the flock (6 remaining) we found cowering in the coop. They are clearly freaked out. We heard nothing, but we don't hear much inside our house from the outside.

    Any ideas? We're thinking either hawk, possum, or raccoon... but we really don't know for sure.
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    To me it sounds very much like a hawk kill.
  3. Mahan5175

    Mahan5175 Chirping

    Jul 28, 2014
    I found a chicken like that early this summer, I thought it was a hawk as well... Then I noticed a hawk a few days later waiting for my chickens to come out of the coop. Then again for a couple days in a row. I kept them locked up for a week or two except for some supervised play when I was out with them. So I still think mine, that was just like your chicken, was a hawk attack.
  4. Sour Land hit the nail on the head.

    I am also 99% sure that you are dealing with a raptor, either a Red Tailed Hawk, a Coopers Hawk, or a Sharp Shinned Hawk aka a Blue Darter Hawk. All three of these hawks are grouped together and are commonalty known as "chicken hawks" because of their fondness for poultry. If we knew the weight of the pullet taken it may be possible to narrow it down by hawk species.
  5. LordStark

    LordStark In the Brooder

    Jan 7, 2014
    Australia NSW
    Any stray cats or foxes around? They'll take the head and leave the rest.
  6. chicken266

    chicken266 In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2014
    Your other chickens are most likely to be traumatised
    But this to me sounds like a hawk, you should definitely put a cover over or watch them while they run out.
    Unless you want to have your other chicks attacked

    I wish you the best of luck and hope all goes well :cd
  7. banananutmuffin

    banananutmuffin In the Brooder

    Thank you all for your comments!

    Yes, hawk does seem likely. We have them around here. A few years ago with another flock, my husband actually saw a hawk sitting on a fence post, watching our chickens in the run. The hawk eventually flew away, and we figured it decided our run was too short, and too close to buildings/overhanging trees for the it to get in and out quickly enough, so the bird decided to look for easier prey. Unfortunately, we have gotten a bit lax about letting our chickens range/roam, since we've never had an incident.

    We're going to keep the chickens in the run for a few weeks and cover it with netting. Hopefully that will work.

    Thanks again!
  8. banananutmuffin

    banananutmuffin In the Brooder

    The perpetrator has been identified.

    This morning my husband looked out the window and saw a hawk perched on our fence, directly above the scene of yesterday's crime. It was clearly waiting for another meal.

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