Linda's Mystery predator of two hens in daylight hours, see photo please and advise aka HELP

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Maiden62, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Maiden62

    Maiden62 New Egg

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    [​IMG] I understand you can enlarge this photo by clicking on it.

    We have just lost two hens (hatched March 2015) to a predator in daylight hours in two days.
    We have a very secure elevated mobile (Horizons) coop. The dead hens were found
    at the base of the entry ramp to the coop. My husband observed a chicken pecking

    at the neck. We considered cannibalism but all hens are visited and enjoyed with free ranging
    under supervision each day and are otherwise in a large chicken "yard" as we call it with an elevated and
    weather protected teepee structure for their feed. 200 hundred feet of electric fence surrounds the enclosed area and we use night guard lights at night, plus music playing in the barn.
    These deaths are occurring during the daylight hours when the electric fence is on and there have been no challenges to the fence.


    We live in NC.....weather during these killings was 3 days of heavy rain but the hens went outside at will.

    The heads and neck are taken down to the bone and then the damage stops at the large
    body section. The second hen had a very small amount of breast meat exposed.


    Please send any questions or suggestions to us as we are of course, saddened at the loss of
    Carrie Crooked Toe and Summie.
     
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    I am going to guess raptor, unless the birds' bodies were up against a fence or disturbed like they were being dragged. Then I may change my opinion. A bird, in the middle of a run, with a neat and tidy death site, where the only meat was taken from the neck and head, screams raptor to me.

    You leave the bodies out, observe, and you will find your culprit tomorrow or the day after. A successful predator will always return to a kill site.

    I am sorry for your loss.

    ETA- I doubt this was cannibalism because the cannibalism I have seen has been messy and all over the place. This seems too neat and tidy to be that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  3. Maiden62

    Maiden62 New Egg

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    Thank you, I am grateful for all inputs.

    A Ph.D. DMV at NCSU thinks it is an aerial predator.

    Our local extension service director thinks it is likely cannibalism of the two lowest order hens (which these probably were, though we
    had seen no indications of dominance, etc issues but I am so new to this I would not know for sure how to know this. It is notable
    that this occurred during a period of 3 days of 100% rain which had never occurred since the March, 2015 hatch.

    The hatchery owner, a graduate of the university animal science program, thinks it is a snake that ingests the head/neck and unable to go
    further, regurgitates the remaining skeleton head and neck.

    You are the second opinion for raptor. Last night I put out metallic predator strips, as well as pinwheels on the coop itself. Today was
    sunny for the first time in three weeks and there was no victim.

    Time will tell. The university DMV suggested reading on "wire or netting or lattice pattered flagging tape"...I believe the metallic fluttering tape strips and the pinwheels would be in that category.

    Thanks to any who contribute further suggestions. I am also reading more on cannibalism in the flock. It appears that a small flock of 8 hens
    actually may contribute to a clear "pecking" order where the known lower ranking hens can be vulnerable. Sounds like Bullying by the Bad Big Girls!

    Fascinating world of poultry and especially the easygoing, friendly and productive hens....
    onward and upward.....
    RIP to Carrie Crooked Toe (Ameracauna) and Summie (Wellsummer).....

    Linda
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    My vote is raptor. As CMV said, it just looks to neat to be cannibalism.
     
  5. hayley3

    hayley3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I vote NO on the cannablism because that's mainly done when birds are living in tight enclosed areas and yours are not. Maybe the birds will peck on the bird AFTER they are dead.

    Did you check the body for puncture wounds like a hawk would inflict with their talons? I believe they kill with the strike and then are able to eat at leisure but I'm no expert but that would explain the picked at flesh on the head and neck.

    Here's another picture of a bird in the same condition in this thread:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/729190/what-killed-this-chicken
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  6. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Snakes leave disgusting slime behind when they try to eat something, fail, and regurgitate it. A snake would not have been able to digest a bird that they couldn't get down, so the head and neck would still be intact, but covered in saliva/digestive juices. I am calling that option out as incorrect.

    Cannibalism is not something that a bird is going to stand still for, unless it is already dead. Birds that are cannibalized often have left blood spatter far and wide as they are running away from their tormenters, while shaking their heads because cannibalism often starts at either the head or the tail/vent, so they are shaking the blood out of their eyes as they try to run and hide. And you saw no evidence of mutilation at the tail/vent, right? I call this option as false, too, unless you saw a virtual blood bath in your run/coop area. Now, if the bird was already dead, then the other birds may take a nibble or two, but that does not mean they killed the bird, merely that they enjoyed the fruits of labor already performed.

    The only sure way to prevent raptors is by putting netting over your run. Period. I have used CDs, fishing line, flashy tape, pie plates, fake owls (that I moved once a week)...none of that works indefinitely. The only way to prevent it is to block access. The netting can be the cheapest bird netting on the market. As long as it is there, then raptors won't try to go through it. Usually. A raptor has to be VERY determined and persistent to tackle a covered run. There are usually easier pickings available rather than risk getting caught up in bird netting.
     
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Nature is not a pretty thing.
    Hawks restrain their prey with their talons and then at the hawks' leisure they slowly eat the living chicken to death.
    There are several cases on this forum where a hen has "recovered" after being rescued from the clutches of a hawk who ate a Quarter Ponder or more worth of chicken meat yet the hen survived.
    I have experienced this with my own flock.

    DO NOT open or view this video if you have a weak stomach.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
  8. hayley3

    hayley3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OMG that is a bit more than I ever wanted to know!!!! I preferred my theory. Eeek! Also I did not watch the video...I could NOT.

    Oddly (knock on wood) we have those screeching hawks flying all over the place but they never bother my birds. I only know we have hawks because of their screeching. (I googled it and our hawks are Red-Shouldered Hawks which normally prey on rodents ..well that's what it says anyway and we have plenty of rodents, which explains why we have no squirrels or chipmunks either, I guess...but if we didn't have plenty, then they'd be after the chickens.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

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