My luck finally ran out (WARNING: Graphic pictures)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Prairie Orca, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. Prairie Orca

    Prairie Orca Out Of The Brooder

    After having chickens since last July, I finally lost a chicken to a predator. Not something I ever wanted to say, but I was aware it would happen sooner or later.

    I had just finished checking on the chickens just half an hour before. I had them all accounted for. When I went to lock them up as the sun was beginning to set, I noticed that three were missing: Cochina, and two Russian Orloff pullets. Mom came home just as I had dressed up in warmer clothing and I asked her to help me find them. We walked to the coop and Crooked-Toe was standing by the coop, making distress calls. She usually makes that noise when she is alone, so I wasn't sure if it was about her being alone or being distressed by something more.

    We coaxed her into the coop, confirmed Cochina and the other Russian Orloff were still missing, and we set off west of the coop, toward the garden shed and field. As Mom went to the garden shed and confirmed that Cochina was hiding in there (the door was blown off in a windstorm some months ago), I noticed a prone figure on the ground in the trees.

    I noticed the feathers... lots of them, spread out in a strange way.



    Then I saw her, belly-up.




    I flipped her over to see if there was any sign of how she was killed.


    Pardon the leaves and pine needles that are all over her... I tried picking some of them off, but a lot of them were stuck to her or were in a place where I didn't want to place my fingers.


    The list of predators who are still around:

    - Domestic cat that lives down the road
    - Great horned owls
    - Cooper's hawk
    - Skunks
    - Raccoon (haven't seen it in a few months though)
    - Foxes
    - Coyotes

    I'm thinking fox or coyote. Am I right in this thought?

    Also, I'm going to keep the chickens locked in the coop for about a week. I told my mom one day, but I'm changing it to a week just to be sure. By then it may be too cold (and maybe snowy) for the chickens to want to be outside anyway.

    We have no guns or anything. I don't really know how to use one, but I do have good aim. Should I consider borrowing a pellet gun or something? I don't want to kill any animal, but I do want to make them think twice before coming back.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. greenegglover

    greenegglover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 14, 2009
    Not a coon or possum.....head would be the first thing gone(99% of the time). Im betting on a hawk or owl on this or coyote would of taken it home with them.

    BTW....sorry about your loss.
  3. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    I know coyotes will eat everything but the toughest parts of it's kill (think beak and legs, and wing tips). The rest of it would be consumed. Generally, raptors will take their catch up into the trees to eat it in safety...skunks LOVE vote is skunk....foxes usually take their prey further away...I believe they are cash killers. That means they eat what they want, and take the rest of it with them and save it for later.

    In my experience, domestic animals usually just kill, but don't consume...I guess skunk, maybe raccoon. But raccoons don't usually eat out in the open.
  4. danischi24

    danischi24 Loves naked pets

    Aug 17, 2008
    Hawk or owl. Look how it defeathered her before eating. Very much a bird of prey MO.
  5. TrystInn

    TrystInn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    In our experience with raptors like Bald Eagles, they prefer to tear the bird apart and take the meatier parts up into the trees or roofs to eat safely so you end up with the legs, neck and head, wings and a portion of the back left to find. We've never found big scattering of feathers like that except with four-legged predators, i.e. the anti-social neighbor's loose dog.

    Having the hubby go up on the roof to clean it up after ole' Baldy enjoyed his meal was NOT a pleasant job.

    Can't speak for the owls, ours are little Barn owls and seem to prefer mice, they only hunt at night.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
  6. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    Jan 27, 2009
    I agree it was a bird, like a hawk or owl most likely. My DD would get so mad because of the mess they left.
  7. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    Sorru for your loss. [​IMG]
    Hawk or owl would be my guess also,a ground preditor would have halled it off but a bird of pray usually eats where it kills or drags it under the nearest cover if it can not fly off with it.

    They will also come back to feed on the kill sometimes
    i witnessed this many years ago with a coopers hawk that killed one of my smaller chickens, i heard the rucus and caught the hawk in the act, ran it off and took the chicken and set it on my fench post till i could dispose of it, i herd the chickens going off again so i went and checked and the hawk had come back and got the chicken and was trying to drag it under some brush.
    I once again ran it off then i tied the kill to the post with a peice of fishing line and 1 hour later he/she came back and tried to drag off the kill so i fired a bottle rocket above it and ie took off and i never saw it again.

    I learned alot about hawks that day amd even though it killed my girl i still love them here.
  8. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    Sorry for your loss. Your chicken looks like it was eaten by an owl. We have an owl that eats ducks at our lake and that's what they look like after the owl gets them. They can be very wasteful, sometimes.
  9. hitgsd

    hitgsd Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 19, 2011
    Looks like a raptor to me. Owl, or hawk. Saw the exact same plucking, and eating of the breast on a wood duck near my pond. Head, wings, feet in perfect shape, just the meatiest part eaten. A racoon, or coyote, or dog would have torn up the whole chicken. I am sorry for your loss.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
  10. duckinnut

    duckinnut Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    Sorry for your loss. But I am thinking merely on the fact that she was plucked that it was more than likely a hawk of some sorts. I say that because it wasn't quite dark when you checked on them last and the sun was setting. Owls generally hunt at night and the amount of damage was extensive and the predator had time to do it. Which I would conclude not an owl but a hawk. A small hawk would be hard pressed to fly away with a chicken that weighs as much as it does,a mole,mouse, snake or rat sure.I bumped a hawk out of my yard one day and walked down to where he was and there was a half eaten rabbit,skin pulled off and meat gone down to the bone.Fox or coyote would have carried her off knowing that you were around and wouldn't have plucked her like she was. A couple of shiny mylar ballons will keep avain predators away but probably not 4 legged ones.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011

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