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Mystery predator...give me ideas as to WHAT did this

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by LilBiddy, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. LilBiddy

    LilBiddy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 13, 2011
    Ok, here we go, bare with me. I got 7 baby chicks (supposedly Rhode Island Reds). Of course being new to this I have NO clue as to the sexing but I felt "Einstein" was a roo. Before the coop was ready I would take some plastic fencing, place it in a circle with a piece of tin on top so they could peck the ground a bit. I went in, ate dinner, came out and one was missing. The critter had pulled back the corner edge of plastic fencing, and got him a chick.(they were 2-3wks old then) I told my husband and he came out and looked around and exclaimed he saw a fox running down the drive towards the woods. I followed that fox and he saw me right before he slipped into the woods BUT...I realized it wasn't a fox, but a coyote. Sometime later I looked out my laundry room window at the now fully finished coop and realized a HUGE hawk was sitting down on the ground on the outside of the chicken wire coop. (8x12 fully covered) I suddenly realized as horror took me over that this hawk had his leg stuck THROUGH a hole in the chicken wire holding down a chick that was now about 4 wks old. The hawk had a decidedly LARGE problem...he couldn't pull his kill through the small hole but he was hanging on for dear life. I went on a tear out of the house to the coop to discover he had not only nailed this chick through the wire...but also another one...Now we are down to four.

    Last nite, well after dark I went to see what the 6 week olds were doing. I took a flashlight and saw they were sitting on a branch I placed caddy-corned in the wire...they were snoozing. I went back in the house...this morning I go out, open the door to the coop and when they came to greet me I noticed they were more animated than usual. I looked down at them and realized....uh oh...one (Dolly) MISSING. Then I see "a feather" then another. I open the door to the coop and step outside...a mass of feathers and one tiny bone...no body. My husband had placed a large piece of plywood over the back half of the coop for a roof (8x4) the coop slopes from 6ft at the front, back to about 3 ft. I looked on top of the roof...THERE was the rest of Dolly! "A bone" lots of feathers. I could see NO prints anywhere. There was no ground disturbance outside the coop OR inside. Whatever got Dolly ate her sitting on top of the coop. The other chickens have NO blemishes of any kind...what's up with this?????
     
  2. Rare Feathers Farm

    Rare Feathers Farm Overrun With Chickens

    I'd guess raccoon.
     
  3. LilBiddy

    LilBiddy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 13, 2011
    Thanks rare. I don't know much about alot, but it seemed to me that a fox or coyote would "go hide" with their kill to feel secure with it. I can't see a coyote jumping up on top of the coop to eat or a fox for that matter but certainly not a coyote. Raccoon seems more likely and we DO have a resident raccoon here. I've seen him coming and going through our stables....
     
  4. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Sorry for your loss. If I were you I'd be adding half inch hardware cloth on top of the chicken wire. You now see that chicken wire is not working. The predators will return now that he knows where dinner is.
     
  5. Rare Feathers Farm

    Rare Feathers Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Yes--I've lost a few in the past to coyotes and the chickens are just gone. Maybe one or two feathers but they get packed off. And they (fox or coyote) would not be able to get on the roof to eat them, either.

    Raccoons are horrid. They are not only very smart but very determined, especially once they know there's easy food to be found! It will be back with a bib around it's neck! [​IMG]
     
  6. LilBiddy

    LilBiddy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 13, 2011
    I hate that "Dolly" met her end. I had a small "hutch" like coop placed inside the coop to put them in at night until they got bigger. I have left them out of the small coop for the last three nights because I thought they were getting big enough......so very WRONG was I...they will go back into the smaller coop now.
     
  7. debontheweb

    debontheweb Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 17, 2011
    White Rock BC
    Wow, sounds like you have seen all the predators. I have lost 3 hens to coyotes (I presume) because they just disappeared during late morning. It continued every second to third day ; they just kept coming back and picking off the largest bird. My coop is impregnable with automatic doors on timers,but they were free ranging in the yard. We ordered an electric poultry fence and surrounded the yard; haven't lost a chicken since its installation. Devastating to loose any hens; one gets so attached!! I name all my birds after my girlfriends so they do not appreciate when their namesake meets her demise. Hope you can solve your problems.
    Deb
     
  8. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    Snoozing on a branch catty corner in the wire is a bad thing. Unless you have very secure hardware cloth, it's like putting out a buffet for the raccoons.

    That's why people train their birds to sleep INSIDE the coop that has solid walls, or else use something that the raccoons can't reach through around the roosting area of the fence. Alternately I had success placing the roost in the CENTER of a 16ft wide pen so that the birds were far-enough from the sides that the raccoons couldn't reach them through the fence - however you have to make sure that is the ONLY thing the chickens can roost on, or they'll pull a dumb trick on you and sleep in the "wrong" place. Recently I had 3 roos together and they kicked one of them off the roost, so he slept on the ground right next to the fence and did not survive the night. Just caught what I suspect is the guilty raccoon. GRRR

    Chicken wire by itself just won't do. Hardware cloth is the ONLY way to go if the chickens will be roosting anywhere nearby. For daytime security you can use welded wire because it is stronger gauge than chicken wire, but with the larger holes the chickens must be somewhere safer at night because of raccoons. Also skunks and small possums can get through it and will steal eggs or feed, but they are less interested in your birds. It's fine for the "run" if the coop is more secure.
    I am guessing your pen/run "roof" isn't very tall is how the hawk got a bird off the ground through the chicken wire on top?
     
  9. Animalian

    Animalian Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2011
    Australia
    I have sheets of metal about 30cm high around the base of my coop up against the wire, this could stop the hawk reaching through at chook level. I've mainly got it the to keep the mice and snakes out.
     
  10. LilBiddy

    LilBiddy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 13, 2011
    Wow Tala....here I thought I had a good coop! And no, the hawk didn't get him through the roof...on the ground on the side...guess I'd better round up some more scrap material. and that yard cloth is ridiculously expensive!
     

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