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never seen this before...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by KeilFamilyFarm, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. KeilFamilyFarm

    KeilFamilyFarm Out Of The Brooder

    i live in washington state.. the other morning i wentout to feed and foundmy biggest drake dead and headless... i noticed a couple other birds were missing so i started searching the run. i found two deheaded turkey poults about 5 lbs eachand a dead bantam with its head and all 3 missing heads behind the coop, WHAT DID THIS? Then i hada great horned wl watching my coop all day
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    GHO will kill by decapitating, but generally eat the heads for the nutritional value of the brains. The fact that the owl was hanging around is probably indicative of the fact that you interrupted his killing spree. They are very tenacious - it will return frequently looking for a way to get at your birds.
     
  3. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would guess it's something other than the GHO that killed these birds, because I don't think birds of prey tend to go on "killing sprees" the way some mammals do. They kill one and eat, and then return when they're hungry again. For what the OP describes, I would guess raccoon first, and perhaps something in the weasel family (such as fisher, if you have them there), second.
     
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    GHO may very well be the exception to the rule as far as birds of prey go. The only thing that casts any doubt in my mind is the fact that the heads were not eaten. Had one get into a kit box of Birmingham rollers one time - it decapitated 20 + pigeons and ate most of the heads. It was unable to get out because of the bobs.
     
  5. welland

    welland Out Of The Brooder

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    My Father used to be a Game Keeper in the UK I remember, He lost loads of pheasants at one time to a small hawk called a Kestrel, I am not sure whether you have them in the US, but maybe you have something similar. Every time he went to the pheasant pen there would be 5-6 pheasants without their heads. It took him a while to find out what was doing it. It just seemed to be killing for the sake of it. I hope this is of some help. [​IMG]
     
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    The usual suspects when large numbers of birds are killed at one time are dogs and weasels. Since a weasel would kill that many, but could not eat near that much, the weasel appears to have an alibi.

    I think it is very unlikely that a Great Horned Owl did that much damage all at the same time.

    Whatever it was it will be back, so if you would like to keep any poultry, it is time to provide a safe secure run for them.
     
  7. charliethezero

    charliethezero Out Of The Brooder

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    I would say the GHO. I've had them do that to my chickens. He got mine in one sitting. I couldn't believe what I was seeing from my house and by the time I ran to the coop he decapitated several but didn't have time to eat them. You probably interrupted his lunch.
     
  8. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very interesting to read these observations of GHO's and kestrels. To those who have seen this behavior, do they eat the entire head, or do they just eat the brain out of the skull? Or does their behavior here vary?
     
  9. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are seeing a GHO, then that is it. I have heard of them flying down and decapitating full grown geese (and never stopping to eat them). A couple nights ago, in the am hours, I had two GHOs out in the trees above where I have chickens roosting on top of a stack of cinder blocks and where the geese stay at night (my drive-way). I went out and clapped very loudly scaring off the GHOs -- so far they have not bothered my birds but I know that could change. GHOs are a top predator (there was an interesting thread on here some time ago where a Great Pyrenees took on and fought a GHO)
     
  10. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wondering if Sourland could respond: When you say it ate most of the head, did it eat the heads in entirety, or just the brains? Strange question, I know. It's not that I am having trouble with GHO, I am just interested in GHO behavior. Thanks.
    -Janine
     

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