Evening predation - but it came back during the day???

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by wendyrun, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. wendyrun

    wendyrun Out Of The Brooder

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    May 25, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Last weekend, I made an error in judgment. My decision alone - told husband we'd be back in time to lock the girls in the coop and he thought we should lock them up just in case. I was sure it would be fine and I was wrong.
    We got home after had been dark about 1 hour and one of our girls was dead in the yard. he thinks I threw the light on and scared it off, whatever it was. She was still warm and her the back of her neck had been chewed off. There was nothing else eaten. I cleaned up feathers from several areas the next morning. It appeared to me they had gone into the coop at dark and whatever got her grabbed her from the roost.

    Our other barred rock was missing but my husband found her hiding in a corner near the fence. So we locked them all in. We locked them in early every night since then as well as kept in a larger fenced area instead of free ranging in our backyard (also fenced). This weekend we were out of town, and have a neighbor who comes over to help. Tonight we got home late due to travel delays and I went out to check on them. My heart stopped when I got near the coop - there were feathers everywhere. I shined the light into the roost and the remaining 3 girls all there. We checked them all over and they seem fine.

    Our neighbor left message that she put them up at 530pm (gets dark right at 7pm right now) and that she had found the feathers and thinks something attacked them and to call her when we get in. it was so late when we got home I haven't talked to her yet. We have a trap so we got it out and set it up out in the yard with some cat food.

    Our coop isn't really large enough for 3 birds to stay full time but I don't know what else we can do until we find out what's going on. it's a mini- coop with a small ladder to nest box and a 5 x 7 run that we built on the front of it. It's pretty secure I believe - it's all covered in hardware cloth, with a 12" section lining the part with open dirt. The original coop sits on pavers - so I hope secure against digging.

    My thoughts - originally I assumed it was a raccoon or opossum - but now I am sure it has to be a raccoon. What else would dare come back during daylight but originally strike at dusk? We lost our first group of birds last year due to our own ignorance and now I'm feeling being too cautious is not cautious enough.

    Are we on the right track?
    there are no weasels or things like that here. We're in north Florida - in town. We have coyotes and fox in this neighborhood but have never seen in our yard. we have opossum and raccoons - not seen coons in the yard but in the street coming and going at night for sure. I haven't seen a opossum in our yard in several years but i know they are around. Hawks and owls. So there are tons of things here - but daylight has always seemed pretty safe time.

    and - um - what do we do with anything we catch? I know a place we can go let things loose, but I am pretty sure I read if you dump a raccoon, they will just keep coming and filling the void. [​IMG]
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Reads like raccoon. They are pretty predictable. Before dog in place, if I new critter was visiting I would sleep on front porch with 0.22 rifle and good flshlight to hear birds. If birds started making racket I went after critter usually involving a wonderful chase through pasture. If coon not trapwise, then set out live trap baited with last kill. Make no assumption only one raccoon involved this time of year.


    Could be more than one type of predator. When great horned owl knocks birds off roost, I can expect red fox to visit an hour or so later.


    Shoot raccoon. Relocation option not generally legal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
  3. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

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    Try a baby monitor in the coop!

    I have caught a possum during the day. Most times dogs are roaming daytime and night . I only see coons at dusk or in the am in my trap!
     
  4. wendyrun

    wendyrun Out Of The Brooder

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    May 25, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    we got nadda in the trap this morning. I really thought I was going to find something big and nasty in there this morning. I'm afraid to let the girls out even though my husband will be home today.

    He thinks animal services will come get whatever we catch...I don't think the county wants people catching things they don't want in their yard and asking them to 'get rid of it'. [​IMG]
    we don't have means of ending life of anything we catch and I'm just not sure we are up for that task. I was thinking he will have to take the trap over to the cemetery or park that is several miles away. ugh.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    What are you bainting trap with?

    Relocating can potentially get you into legal issues. Check your states wildlife lays.

    If you or husband present, most predators can be told to go pretty easy, just get in their face.
     
  6. wendyrun

    wendyrun Out Of The Brooder

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    May 25, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    I am pretty sure we're not supposed to trap or relocate and this would all be on the dl....sigh...

    I was using dry cat food to bait the trap. That doesn't sound very enticing now that I think about it, but it was the first thing I thought of. I'm thinking tuna or wet cat/dog food better for tonight.

    I'm wondering if a hawk might have tried to grab one of the girls, and that she ran into the coop and it wasn't able to pick her up b/c she is too large and due to the coop, hawk not able to fly out. That would explain feathers inside there.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Could be hawk. Show pictures of wounded bird(s). Point out punctures if possible. Hawk / owl punctures will be more restricted and drier with less tearing at damage site. Raccoons tear a lot where punctures are located and body feathers will look slobbered on..
     
  8. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    Most predators will hunt either night or day, it makes no difference to them.. Hawks don't hunt after dark and owls very rarely hunt before twilight, so if you are losing both at night and during daylight, I doubt that it is a bird of prey.

    Other than that, it could be anything. Raccoon, fox, dog, domestic cat, wild cat, mink, coyote, there are lots of options.

    It shouldn't take a lot of effort to add a run to your coop so the birds have some extra space during the day. Whatever has found a free easy meal will be back.

    Dry cat food works as bait for most predators. A can of wet cat food might work better. Pastries or marshmallows work for raccoons. They are rumored to not be able to resist Honey Buns.
     
  9. wendyrun

    wendyrun Out Of The Brooder

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    May 25, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    well night two and we got zilch in the trap.
    It seems clear you all on the right track - that the bird we lost was something else that's moved on and looks like a hawk tried to make a meal out of our other girl.

    I've been cleaning up feathers all over. The one who was attacked has just lots of feathers missing off her wings. I checked her all over this morning and I can't find a darn scratch or puncture anywhere on her. She has a big naked patch on one wing. When you look at her head on, she's got white tufts showing on her wings where there are feathers missing.

    My husband let them out yesterday after he was home for the day and reported no problems. I'm just afraid to leave home now for any length of time and ask someone else to let them in and out.

    It was a huge undertaking for us to make the coop and run we have now. My brother came last year and helped us shore it up. We're not 'handy' people, and he did the design work and all the measuring, cutting, etc. I don't relish the idea of finding a way to attach more space to the frame we've got now, nor digging down a foot to drop hardware cloth again to make it dig-proof. Sigh. But we have the space. He's actually coming this week to visit again and I was going to ask for help with the nest box top that's rotted loose (that was the pre-fab part of the coop) and my feed tube that never works just right. Maybe he can see an easy way to add on the sides so we're not reinventing the wheel. I see the beautiful stuff on here and ours is a rigged up box with another box on the front. Not pretty nor Martha Stewart but we don't exactly have her resources or talents.

    thanks for the guidance - hoping if we just continue with this 'heightened lock-down' whatever it was will move on and look for easier marks.
     
  10. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    Don't remove the trap. Your problem has had a meal and might not hunt again for 3 days. It might catch something else in the meantime and not be back to your place for a week or even more. Don't assume it has moved on.

    It's also possible that it is a neighbor's dog and it will be back the next time it gets loose.
     

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