Hawk vs Owl MO

jeepgrrl

Songster
Feb 25, 2017
164
248
187
North Central Ohio
Hi all,

I'm trying to tease out any info on what aerial predator took my beloved Dark Brahma today. I'm thinking it was either an owl or a hawk. Her name was Feather Feet and she was a big, healthy girl, weighing in at around 9 lbs. She was missing when we returned home from work, around 3pm. The only bits of Feather Feet that was left were some feathers scattered about, pretty far from the coop; my girls free range. No blood, no carcass, just some piles of feathers scattered along the fenceline, and a bare spot where Feather Feet was plucked before disappearing. The area where I found her abuts a wooded area where we hear owls all the time. We have s 5', no climb fence that has no obvious areas of fence that would have been breached. This was a daytime attack, although exact time is unknown. I've had issues with migratory hawks in the past, but they left the decapitated body behind. I can't envision a hawk having the ability to fly off with Feather Feet, due to her hefty weight. The weather was gray but mild earlier, changing to rain with decreasing temps later. So do y'all think this was, indeed, an owl vs a hawk?
 

Trevorusn

Songster
Apr 15, 2019
729
1,632
232
New Hampshire
Hawk most likely, owls are designed more for rodents rather than larger prey. A hawk will have no hesitation in tackling larger prey birds, and are pretty powerful birds for their size so carrying her off is not totally out of the realm of reality.
 

eikome

Chirping
Apr 26, 2018
51
120
74
Upstate NY
Not sure you'll be able to know for certain. Owls can and do hunt during the day just like hawks. A Great Horned Owl can hunt and carry things much larger and heavier than itself like rabbits, skunks, woodchucks, geese, etc. A 9lb chicken wouldn't be an issue. On the other hand, Red-tailed hawks are one of the bigger species of hawks and eat mostly small animals, but they can carry away more than 5lbs of prey.

Sorry about your hen :(
 

jeepgrrl

Songster
Feb 25, 2017
164
248
187
North Central Ohio
Great news! When we got home from work today Feather was back in the coop!!! :woot She is traumatized and exhausted, probably was up all night, frightened out of her mind, but she was talking to me and let me inspect her for damage. She has a gash just above where her wing is attached and missing quite a few feathers. The wound looks superficial, we cleaned it up and sprayed Vetericyn on it, so I'm hopeful she will recover. I got her to eat some egg, BOSS, her feed, and a few treats. She was able to make it up to her favorite roosting spot in the coop, another hopeful sign. I even went out looking for her a second time after dark last night and she never made a sound. I'm still in shock she made it back home! :ya

Based on her injury this was no doubt an aerial ambush attack. The owls that live in the woods are Great Horned owls, and I have seen activity from them during the day, but this attack seems too sloppy for them - they are a mated pair and have lived there for a few years and are experienced predators. I've had two previous failed hawk attacks, both on the same hen (not Feather, a different hen) by two different species of hawk (juvenile Red Tail and a migratory Cooper's hawk) many months apart, so I'm leaning towards the hawk theory. We do fave foxes in the area but have never seen them in the fenced-in area of our property. We have three Siberian Huskies and I think their scent keeps the four-legged predators at bay. They would have to scale a 5 foot no-climb fence with a 9 pound hen - that would be quite a feat! There are no breeches in the fence, we are always checking for that because Siberian are notorious escape artists, lol!

I thank everyone for their input! It was a total mystery to me how she could just *disappear* like that, but I'm so grateful that she made her way home! Please keep your fingers crossed that her wound heals and she returns to her old self. Thanks again! :)
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
12 Years
Nov 18, 2007
22,094
12,302
641
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I think it was a fox and somehow she escaped and the fox abandoned her for some reason and she hid. Owls usually are more at dawn and dusk, nighttime predators. If you have a game camera put it up because more than likely the predator will be back, either aerial or ground predator. Most likely it has been lurking looking for an opportunity. Good luck...
 
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