Need help determining if hawk is my predator (edit:I think its an owl)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by janastasio, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. janastasio

    janastasio Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I have owned poultry for 5 years and yet to have a wild predator problem until now. (we have had issues in the past with our dog). Two weeks ago my daughter came home to find a hawk (or some sort of big bird) in our pen eating one of our call ducks. We kept the ducks and chickens in their coop over the next 2 weeks and I ordered a net to put over their pen. We worked our butts off this weekend installing this net (50x50) over the outdoor pen. I have the 4 foot green chainlink fencing as the perimeter of my pen. We ran clothes lines over the pen attached to trees and our garage (which is next to our pen) and managed to cover the whole thing. I stapled the net around the trees and garage and tie wrapped the net around the fence. It came out pretty good. I'm sure there are some small gaps here or there on the edges, but certainly nothing gaping. The only other slightly larger spot open was through my door. I have a 3-4 inch gap above the door that does not have net. My daughter came home today to find a dead duck in the pool. The pool was new to the ducks and we had just filled it this weekend for them. Its a 8 foot by 2.5 foot pool. We made a very make shift ramp for it, and our first thought was the duck couldnt get out and drowned. When I came home and inspected the duck, I found a hole in the side of her chest the size of a plum. The damage reminded me of the first bird killed by the hawk but not as eaten. I'm wondering how this bird got in and why the duck was in the pool dead. Also, if it was a hawk, it would not have had an easy exit. I'm so bothered by this. I work full time, have a husband going through cancer treatment, and don't have the time to sit in my pen waiting to bait whatever predator I have. I also love my birds and my daughter is devastated everytime we lose one. This runner she lost today was her bird she has won at the last two 4-H shows she has shown at. So frustrating.......Also, the net is the lowest above the pool. The net stretches tight enough, but I haven't seen how much it sinks if something heavy sits on it. Would a hawk kill through a net???
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2010
  2. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    Sounds to me like it could have been a possum. I know they will sometimes eat chunks out of birds and leave them for dead. They duck may have gotten away during the attack only to die in the pond. I think if it had been a coon it would have swam out and retrieved the bird to finish it off.

    If you have the top of your pen covered as you say, I seriously doubt it would have been a hawk. Even if it had managed to get through the netting, I don't think it could have escaped and probably would have been there when you returned.

    Let us know if you figure out what it was. Personally I would set a live trap. If it was a possum, mink, weasel, or coon, it will be back! Count on it!
  3. janastasio

    janastasio Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I think it's an owl. I forgot I saw one in the trees in the morning this summer in the back yard. Got up this morning and saw it fly up onto a branch in the woods. Same spot as this summer. Its a huge bird and I saw it very clearly this summer. I researched it back then because I thought it was unusual to see one during the day. I found out barn owls are quite commonly seen during the day. The netting I put up over the pen is at its lowest over my pool. I think a heavy enough bird could have landed on the net and weighed it down enough to kill the duck. I'm going to hoist that part of the pen up more today with 2x4's and try again and see what happens. Think I'll sit in my car and watch the pen (its cold outside!).
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    I'm sorry you're still having problems. That's so heartbreaking. I would prop up the net over the pool and also close the remaining gaps. I think you are very close to having your pen the way you need it to be, with just a little more work. Hawks have killed through fencing, I'm sure an owl could, also. Usually it's through the sides, but I could see with a low hanging net where that could be a possibility.

    Many different predators can get through surprisingly small gaps, too. I know hawks have gotten through gaps in netting covered runs, although the cases I've heard of, they had trouble getting back out. I think it just depends on how big the gap is and where it is.

    During the growing season, we free range. Late fall we've started confining the chickens to the run, because of the increased hawk density during the fall migration and the lack of cover after the leaves all fall. We no longer have the chickens pastured with livestock as a hawk deterrent. So, we needed to cover the run, to keep out the hawks. One of my chickens flew through a gap above the run door, as we were working on covering it. I told my husband we were going to need to cover that gap, but he didn't believe me. Then Bebe flew up there and squeezed through it while he was out there. He kept repeating, "I can't believe she did that..." Birds study things and spend time working things out, when they are motivated enough. My African grey parrot can fly down the hallway, do a 90 degree turn and fly through the bathroom doorway when he wants to. Birds are really agile in the air. He can also land on just about anything he wants to.
  5. Carolyn

    Carolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2008
    I am sorry about your loss; I do know how frustrating that is. I would suggestion you do everything already suggested but if I were you I would still set a live trap in case you are wrong about it being the work of a hawk or owl. I have lost some to predators thru the years. One day I lost several and actually saw a fox plucking a chicken in the yard (managed to save that one). The MO was not the same on all the birds and we set a live trap. I shot a feral cat that afternoon that came back to eat on one of the dead chickens. We caught a coon and later a possum.

    My point is, sometimes when I am so sure I have it figured out, I am wrong. Or there has been more than one predator around.
  6. Bizzybirdy

    Bizzybirdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2008
    North of Nashville
    Sounds like a possum to me also...seems like it would be unlikely that a bird, owl or hawk, could eat a hole out of a duck through netting without putting a big hole in the netting. Keep an eye out...whatever it was will be back for another try.

    Hope you get it.

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