Can you tell me what killed my chicken?

banananutmuffin

In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 29, 2011
67
0
39
Just South of Mason-Dixon Line
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.
 

Mahan5175

Chirping
5 Years
Jul 28, 2014
170
5
53
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.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,191
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
.... 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....

....We're thinking either hawk, possum, or raccoon... but we really don't know for sure.
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.
 

chicken266

In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 3, 2014
21
2
24
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
 

banananutmuffin

In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 29, 2011
67
0
39
Just South of Mason-Dixon Line
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!
 

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