hen gone, feathers only, puzzling

qumumd

Chirping
13 Years
Sep 11, 2007
13
2
77
went out just after sundown but still daylight to shut the chickens in their house. there were feathers of my black banty outside the fence.............a 6 ft chain link. chickens could not get out. so i looked everywhere in the yard but found no trace of anything but dog kept running and smelling like something must be there. then in the morning outside the shop door there were more black feathers...........just feathers. so i figure someting carried the hen out of the chicken yard and must have been in tree or on shop roof when i was searching the nite before. would a hawk do this or an owl or what? a puzzle. it was still daylight when this happened.
 

Johnn

Crowing
8 Years
Sep 5, 2011
8,670
653
346
I had 2 hens taken with just feathers left behind exactly one week after the other. It was really frustrating because I still don't know what did it. The first time it happened they killed 2 hens but left one behind dead with a ***** mark like this in her back:
 

mandelyn

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 30, 2009
2,488
1,142
391
Mt Repose, OH
My Coop
My Coop
Marks like that on the back are from a hawk.

The chicken in the first post, bantams can easily fly a 6ft fence, specially a hen. The pile of feathers outside makes me think she was caught along it. No feathers inside at all? Since she was totally gone, that means something carried her off, so it's larger. Like a fox, coyote, dog, wild cat, or hawk/owl (will be out in evening light or early dawn).
 

mandelyn

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 30, 2009
2,488
1,142
391
Mt Repose, OH
My Coop
My Coop
The scooped out flesh on the back of the chicken is caused by the beak of a predatory bird. It's always on the back because of how they attack. Which predatory bird it is, I can't say. It is weird that two were attacked and one taken... usually it's just the one. The marks are not from teeth though. In the Spring it's not completely unheard of for birds of prey to hunt as pairs.

Scotland has a lot more birds of prey, but many of them cruise south a bit for breeding or wintering. You may have been hit by a pair of them passing through. You could see about contacting a research facility that tracts their movement. They would also be able to tell by the marks on the chicken, having studied their hunting methods. Since hawks aren't typical in your area, I doubt they're permanent residents and the threat will move on. You'll know for sure if the attacks like this only happen this time of year. I know we have a resident hawk, but the issue is when the other hawks pass through. The resident likes dove and squirrel, where the visitor hawks in September/October will take a chicken or even a duck (though the duck is too heavy to leave with for their size)

Here's a link that shows what could have potentially done it... http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/families/hawks.aspx The maps are not going to be exact, animals come and go from their usual areas frequently enough. The maps simply show where they are known to be.
 

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