Lost our first bird - trying to figure out what happened

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by StevieChicks, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. StevieChicks

    StevieChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Hi all,

    Day before yesterday, we lost one of our beloved Barred Rocks to a predator and I'm not sure what happened. Our girls are free range and are usually very good at hiding and coming back into the coop at dusk. I was not home Monday evening and left two of my boys in charge of closing up the coop for the night. I guess they didn't notice that Blossom was missing. In the morning when I let them out, I noticed that she was missing, so I went looking for her. We found what was left of her not far from the coop. All that was left was a big pile of feathers - no blood and no carcass to be found anywhere. I guessing it was either a hawk or an owl, but I can't be sure of what time of day it happened - I'm guessing near dusk because it seems she was on her way back to the coop for the night. We are so sad as she was one of the sweetest, kookiest girls in our flock and she will be missed. If anyone has any ideas what type of predator got her, I can take appropriate measures. It's already decided that their free ranging days are over....[​IMG]

    I appreciate any input. Thank you!
  2. jhm47

    jhm47 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2008
    The hen in the pic looks pretty big, and in good shape, so it's doubtful that an owl or hawk would have flown off with her. It takes a pretty big bird to fly off with prey that's as heavy as they are. I'd bet it's a land-based animal of some kind. Possibly a dog, coyote, fox, or who knows?

    Did you check for tracks? I noticed that there is snow in the picture. Should be some tracks. If it's a bird, there would likely be marks from the wings where the predator took off. They nearly always leave "wingprints" in snow, especially with a hen as big as yours. Good luck!
  3. KWoodardRN

    KWoodardRN Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 3, 2014
    Sorry to hear about your girl have the same problem where I'm at. Big problem with dogs getting mine just lost another hen yesterday to neighbors dog she makes the 4th in the last yr. so my girls are basically confined to their coop and pen unless we get a nice day and I can stay outside and babysit them and monitor what is coming in my yd.
  4. Spanishchick

    Spanishchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 29, 2013
    My Coop
    I'm sorry to hear about your girl. I know the feeling but I don't think it's a hawk. We've gone through quite a bit of attacks and they are too big to be held and if they are grabbed in the perfect spot they can't hold them for long.
    Do dogs eat the entire chicken??? Must be a pack of dogs?
    Wolves, fox............I would say any of those and more than one to leave nothing.
  5. KWoodardRN

    KWoodardRN Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 3, 2014
    Fortunately I arrived b4 they got eaten but too late to save them dogs (2) killed them and I pulled up n driveway and dogs took off. It's frustrating kinda hoping that this one I have is a rooster (that doesn't crow) so maybe I will hatch my own instead of having to keep buying more
  6. JamieW

    JamieW Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 27, 2014
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Where I am in VA the eagles have made a strong comeback and I actually saw a eagle take a duck so I would guess it could take a chicken too. Sorry for your loss.
  7. StevieChicks

    StevieChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you all for your replies and condolences. There was absolutely no evidence of the kill except the pile of feathers. No tracks, no blood, no carcass, no sign of a struggle - nothing. After doing some more research and speaking with some locals, we've come to the conclusion that it must be a fox. We are in a wooded area up on the side of a mountain and there are no dogs in the area. A coyote is another thought, but we have found that to be uncommon for our area.

    So, for now, the girls are still free ranging, but we are watching them closely and bringing them in well before dark. When it starts to warm up we will begin construction on their yard. Still missing our girl, but I guess it goes with the territory and I suppose it could have been worse....

    Thanks again.
  8. crazyfeathers

    crazyfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2013
    Auburndale, Wi
    Very true jamie, my girl friend lost 4 of her buff orphinton to an eagle sometimes they just ate the head and left the rest. When processed her chickens weighed 7 to 8 pounds which is nothing for an eagle.
  9. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    It looks like a fox's M.O. The bad thing is, the fox WILL be back. And if they have young this spring, they will take more than one. I got away with freeranging for almost a full year. Then on sunny afternoon, I lost 9 birds. Like you, I just found different colored piles of feathers in the yard. The birds were gone. Then after bird sitting them when they were out, we got careless, a few months later and lost 7 more another sunny day.
    The answer for me was electrified poultry netting from Premier. I started out with 300', it worked so well, I got 300' more. You can power it with 110V house current, or go solar. I've had this fence up now for almost three years, and it has been the answer for me, as far as ground preds go. You can surround a big area for less $$, than if you were to build a wood framed, hardware clothed fence half the size. Which, unless it's covered, with a apron to deter digging, would be useless against a fox. They'll go up and over, or dig under. They get in excess of 7000vs to the face, they forget all about chicken dinner that day. Check out Premier's website and see what they have.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  10. StevieChicks

    StevieChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks, JackE! I will definitely check out the website as we will be starting their yard in the next couple of weeks if the weather will cooperate.

    Appreciate your input!

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