maybe an owl?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by redhotchick, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Y'all I have a problem. I'm loosing big $ in birds. Here is the deal, every time I find an animal dead only the head is gone. Now I just lost an inported blood Flemish giant rabbit. This rabbit was 22lbs and huge. Just his head was gone. Now one night I heard my guard dogs barking hard so I ran outside. I clearly seen a huge owl fly away. I mean this was a huge owl. Maybe a horned owl. I have dogs patrolling all night and they explode if they hear anything. I don't have any ground predators. This was a huge rabbit tho. Do owls just eat the heads of their prey? I really can't believe it! I'm so mad!
     
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by redhotchick [​IMG]

    ..... Do owls just eat the heads of their prey? I really can't believe it! I'm so mad!
    Owls start eating at the head and if uninterrupted or hungry enough progress down from there. Over the course of a night one or two owls may feed off the same kill multiple times. It is common to find a chicken with all its internal organs (at least the heart etc) exposed.

    As you have already discovered Great Horned owls are Terminator fans, they'll be back. Expect to loose one chicken or rabbet per night until there are no more vulnerable chickens available or the owl or owls eating your animals go back North.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Muffinburgler

    Muffinburgler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unlikely. Owls like to carry their food somewhere safe to eat, namely in a tree. So they take things that are light. A starving owl MIGHT target large prey and only eat the head, but very unlikely. How do you know you don't have ground predators? There are animals that can slip by dogs, they're pretty smart. This definitely sounds like the work of a four-legged animal.

    Why aren't your animals locked up? Put them somewhere secure at night and this won't happen again.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have Great-horned Owls visit. Also Barred Owls but it is the former that cause most aggravations. Head is generally first part consumed. If prey item weighs more than about 2.5 lbs then owl can not fly with it from ground but will drag it come ways and even haul it up into a tree. They do not seem to drag bigger items though tall grass (> 18"). I make so dogs can actually get into where owl is doing it's business and the dogs do it very well. One close call from dogs generally trains a given owl to quite visiting until the next year. Most of my birds during time owls are most problematic (fall and early winter) are penned at night and broody hens stay under items that block the owls line of sight.


    Go sit in chair among your stock about time owl visits. If you do not move, then it will likely behave as if you are not there. Then you will be able to see how they do their business which can provide insight into how to stop losses.
     
  5. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is 100% my fault. I always keep them inside. They have a fenced courtyard and dogs all the way around the outside. This owl is huge but I didn't think he could fly with 22lbs in his talons, i theses rabbits size is everything an.d I have huge rabbits. I did have a coyote problem till I trained my dogs. They know their job. My chickens are in pens and avaires. I have oriental birds and they are not cheap.
     
  6. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have blue heelers and an American bullbog. The heeler is a Lil older and knows he is on guard. He is training my bulldog to watch. They know any movement to go to work. They both are very aggressive and will bite. They also k ow if they touch a rabbit what will happen. I breed and sell them and this was a nice male. What sucks now is I gotta go tell my wife, she doesn't know yet! Also I found the rabbit near where my dogs are. I am 100% it wasn't them tho. If my heeler does something wrong he will tell me himself by his action s. If a dog kils a bird around here, he's gone! These rabbit have a grapefruit size head and it was completely gone. My bulldog was inside last night too. This is weird!
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    All is consistent with Great-horned Owl. Mine will hunt within 10 feet of barking dogs (dogs barking at owl) as owl goes from tree to tree knocking chickens out. No birds are lost because dogs stand among them waiting for owl to follow which it does not do. Still a problem because chickens then keep changing roost sites after each disturbance.


    Since you have games I assume you have pens chicken tight. Just a little tweeking will make them reasonably owl proof as well.
     
  8. Great horned owls are known to eat falcon heads because it has the most nutrition for the owls young and itself.
    so it probably is a great horned
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  9. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've seen it during the day. I scared it out of a tree in the back of my land. I was driving my fences and it flew from a tree. I had no idea they could get so big. I'm guessing 3ft tall. It was so big. Roosting about 15ft off the ground. I was real close when he took off. I was looking right at it. I have mixed roosters that will not go in the coop at night. They go up in the trees. I'll notice them gone sometimes too. All of my Oriental s are in pens with netting or a metal roof. I never loose them anymore. My pens are very heavy duty
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    All owls look a lot bigger than they are. To see a dead one up close you will note the bird underneath the feathers is only essential meat bones, and eyeballs. Weight wise they are similar to Red-tailed Hawks but are more likely to surprise you when they take off.

    Owl may be coming in for chickens roosting in trees but mine are there first for the mice and rats. Still a bad practice to get them into going after chickens unchallenged. Doing so can result in them trying to work out your pens. They will reach through wire with talons and cause damage similar to what a raccoon does. I make so birds roost clear of pen sides (>9") and make so owl does not have perch on outside near roosting chickens. Owl will even walk perimeter of pens trying to get birds flushed to ground and sometimes chickens make job easier by laying up against wire.


    Owls when disturbing also cause Mr. Fox to call later catching stragglers owl knocks down.
     

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