OBSERVING RESPONSE OF ROOSTING CHICKENS TO OWLS

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by centrarchid, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Over last 10 nights or so a great-horned owl has been visiting with intent of eating chickens. My birds are not all that vulnerable owing to a combination of roosting arrangements and dog that seems to stalk owl from front porch. When owl visits, chickens get riled and dog goes to investigate. On first night owl actually knocked a pullet off the top of a pen and breifly grappled her on ground before dog busted up the owl's efforts and chased it off. Most birds now under cover or roosting to close to dog's sleeping area to be vulnerable to owl. This does not seem to be stopping owls efforts. It still visits and many of the penned birds are visible to owl standing on power pole but otherwise not accessible owing to pen. On last few nights owing to moonlight chickens can see owl when it visits causing chickens to make a lot of odd cackling and doing some pretty consistent posturing while on roost. Somehow I think this behavior has potential for providing chickens better odds against owl although I do not know how. Most of us dealing with predators are concerned with simply did we loose a bird or did we get predator, but I was wondering if anybody took time to look and listen for what chickens are doing. I am trying record sounds and pictures but so far have slept through most recent visits. I am now to point where moving couch onto front porch and may tie string from dog to my toe for use as alarm.

    Anyone tried to observe what their chickens are doing when owls visit?
     
  2. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    BOCOMO
    Fortunately, on the dissected uplands along the Brown's Station Anticline (highest point in Boone - Hinkson/Cedar Creeks both rise within a half-mile - believe you're in the Auxvasse drainage to the East), Barred Owls are the only threat (have heard one GHO, out here, during the past 28 yrs). The chooks growl when the Owls are yapping at sundown, but chooks are locked up at night. However, the `posturing' sounded familiar (wonder what aerial preds Jungle fowl contend with?). Audubon's observation of Wild Turkey posturing might be of interest: [​IMG] From: http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v079n03/p0444-p0452.pdf The Barred's here are plentiful. They use the tree bowered streams as `subway tunnels' and are often whacked by cars at bridge crossings.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Very interesting. My birds ball up feathers kind of like a hen over chicks and stand with neck outstretched at roughly 45 degrees below horizontal. The owls seem to take adult standard sized fowl when they are on ground. I still do not know how the owl knocks a bird off but grandfather said barred owls would push juveniles of branch by pushing sideways and then catching young bird on ground.

    I have three bigger owls here on property; great-horned, barred and long-horned. For some reason the little screechs and saw-whets not present.

    Owls in Asia and India are pretty similar to ours. Biggest difference I think is the domestic chickens here are a lot larger relative to owls than are jungle fowl. I had some red jungle fowl and red jungle fowl x American games a year ago and owls got every las one of those but not a single American Game even though all roosted together.

    We live a few drainages west of Auxvasse at head waters of a little stream called Turkey Creek that dumps directly into the Missouri River.
     
  4. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    I've actually seen GHO's along the Missouri River and the lower Perche, but I think the Barred's react to GHO's, up here, like crows on Eagles (big population of Barred's). Never have had a Barred attack (though they will hunt at sundown) a chook. Ours eat frogs from around the pond and, occasionally, will get a Black Rat Snake that is moving through the upper branches of trees at night. We promote the Barred's and the Southern Nocturnal Flying Squirrels. Like to watch their `contests' on late summer nights (SNFS's will glide down onto the back of an owl that is intent on matching the glide of another SNFS in front of it).

    Maybe a bit of netting would prevent a full on frontal assault.

    Good luck!
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    No visit last night.

    Even though I have both barred and great-horned, they never come at same time. The barred seem to come just after dusk and just before dawn while great-horned more variable. Voles seem to be the hot ticket on my place. I have yet to see flying squirrels in my woods but will be looking when son gets a little older. Back home in Indiana we used to climb larger hollowed out redbud trees and flush out whole families of the little guys.

    I am not loosing birds to wildlife all summer; dogs are really coming into their own. Will have to get a game came because I have pretty much everything visiting except mountain lions and black bears. Newest fun is with armidillos. They do not cause trouble other than put hazzards in my walking trails that eat you after dark. They dig bigger and deeper holes than skunks.
     
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    The chickens at my house have always been sound sleepers. After the sun goes down, I can walk right up to them and pick them up.

    The geese, on the other hand, never miss anything night or day, near or far. The ducks are not as alert as the geese at night, but they don't miss much that comes in closer to them.

    My birds ignore the owls. My ducks, chickens, and turkeys are securely penned at night. So the owl checks in occasionally but doesn't consider my place to be a fast food take-out.

    The geese are fenced but not covered, but even the huge Great Horned Owl who lives in a tree at the back property line is unwilling to attempt a whole flock of large geese who are aware of his presence. He would probably take ducks, but he doesn't have access to them.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    The only chickens I have that can be walked up on after dark are those roosting on front porch. Those habituated to human / dog traffic to point they often do not even wake up when I am out talking on phone in doorway in reach of touching them. Birds roosting in pens, on ground, or in trees can not be approached without them becoming aware. Most will still allow me to pick them up excepting for some tree roosting birds we used to have that would fly in dark across feild once disturbed with pole used to bring them down from roost. The reaction to disturbance has more to do with an individuals previous experience with threats while roosting. Hens with chicks are more vigilant than otherwise.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Yes, my owls also operating as a pair but not hunting while I observed. They were singing their duet in a neighbors tree about 200 yards from my front porch. I could distinguish sexes. They may be ejecting last seasons brood but I have not hearda young one all summer. Strengthening pair bond and shoring up territory boundaries I think emphasis now. They do breed early.
     

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