Help to ID predator

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by falmouthgirls, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. falmouthgirls

    falmouthgirls New Egg

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    Jun 25, 2010
    I free-range my "Girls" in my fenced -in backyard, the fencing has slots that allow smaller animals in and out. Yesterday I returned home to find feather patches throughout parts of the backyard; large patch from my cuckoo marans, a small patch of RI red feathers, identifiable feathers of other hens. I started the day with 6 layers and 2 x 13 week old pullets, only 3 came home to roost. 1 of the 3 has loss of feathers on the back, and clearly hurt. I have no carcasses, no blood. Something or things carried the hens away. I envision and squadron of hawks with what I found on the back of the Red. The lack of blood and carcasses makes it hard to make a case for a ground predator. Any thoughts and what advice on what I should do would be greatly appreciated. And when to begin to repopulate. Naturally the outdoor time for the Girls will be severely restricted and only happen when to dog can be out with them. I am so very sad also, these Girls have been part of the family. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't know. With so many gone at one time, it sounds more like a dog than anything else, but the birds usually don't disappear. The dog will often stack them up since it is only playing. It sounds a bit like a pack of coyotes, or even wolves. I don't know how possible that is in your set-up and area. They can get through pretty small holes on fences or jump a decent fence, even carrying a chicken. Hawks don't travel in squadrons. It's hard to imagine going from no birds disappearing to 5 in one day to hawks. I'm sure it is possible, just doesn't sound reasonable. With you finding patches of feathers around, it kind of destroys the theory that something frightened them out of your fence and killed them elsewhere or that they are still hiding.

    These links may help you, possibly the second link more than the first since it is more detailed.

    Oklahoma State – Clues to predators
    http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Rendition-3573/unknown

    Clues to Predators thread
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=18670

    Good luck. This sounds like a hard one to be sure.
     
  3. falmouthgirls

    falmouthgirls New Egg

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    Jun 25, 2010
    Thanks, unlike to be wolves or coyote as fencing won't let in. Hoping a few have scattered and will return.
     
  4. rcentner

    rcentner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If it is a hawk attack, I wonder if there was anyhwere for the chickens to take cover? My chooks see a hawk from a long ways away, make the predator noise, and run for the bushes. Hawks can't swoop down and get the chickens if the hawk might break a wing flying into a tree or branches. I would make sure there are places all over the yard for them to run under and hide. Can be anything, trees, bushes, even turned over wheelbarrows. good luck, call for the birds, if you have a loud noise that they are used to hearing all the time that helps direct them home. I had 1 hen return the day after a fox attack cause she heard the critter alarm (real loud annoying noise they used to hear every night during the winter).
     
  5. falmouthgirls

    falmouthgirls New Egg

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    Jun 25, 2010
    Thanks, lots of cover, shrubs, bushes, under the deck, under the coop. Have been calling out "girls, girls, girls" the call they know for cracked corn off and on since last night. Will continue.
     
  6. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    Wilmington, NC
    Sorry to hear about your birds. Losing them to preditors is annoying at best, but to lose so many at a go is really hard. This sounds to me like a dog or a fox. Foxes aren't usually out during the day, though a vixen with a litter to feed might be an exception. I have had losses of up to 20 birds in fox massacres. My fox losses have usually occurred at dawn, when the birds are just coming from their roosts and the fox hasn't yet retired for the day. A fox will kill all it can catch, then "cache" the bodies. Foxes can be very clever at finding holes in your defenses, sometimes a trail of feathers will lead you to the point where one gained access.
     

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