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Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sunnychooks, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. sunnychooks

    sunnychooks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    Last week I lost two chickens to something. I assumed the predator was a hawk, but now I'm second guessing myself. I found a head next to the chicken yard (they were free-ranging at the time) and one in my compost, which is also a short distance from the chicken yard and coop. I've checked the predator sites and did a search on BYC but cannot find anything about what predator would leave heads only.
    Here are some details:
    1) The two that were killed were smaller - one was a Leghorn and the other looked like it was one of my smaller Partridge Rocks.
    2) There were feathers scattered INSIDE the chicken yard (which has poultry netting over it). I thought that was strange.
    3) There was another chicken that I nursed back to health that had a bent neck. She could not lift it for a few days. She also was unable to walk for a couple of days. I thought it may have been due to her being dropped. She is a larger, heavier mixed breed.
    4) The rest of the chickens (28) did not want to come out of the coop the next day. When they did, a hawk flew overhead and they all ran back inside.
    I'm still thinking this was a hawk attack, but the head issue puzzles me. Any thoughts or ideas?

  2. TXmom

    TXmom Songster

    My GUESS would be a dog. I came home one day to find out that a few of my young chickens (about 2 months old) had gotten out of their fence and into my front yard. I found lots of feathers, a head from one chicken, and a leg from another on the other side of the yard. I'm 99% sure it was a neighbor's dog that had gotten out of it's fence and ran to my yard to catch the "squeaky toys" running around.
  3. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Songster

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    That is really odd. It was day time? I am assuming this as you think it might have been a hawk. Day time attack really narrows it down. Hawks simply can't eat a whole chicken. They will eat the meat off of what ever side is 'up' when they kill the bird. The hawk deaths here have had injuries to their head, and some of the muscle meat striped from the back or breast. Things that come by day- humans, dogs, bold bobcats/coyotes/foxes (usually at night though), hawks/eagles. Larger predators will take the whole bird and eat it in safety somewhere else. Smaller predators will eat parts. I simply can't think of a animal predator that leaves the head behind. Dog or person would be my guess. Is the coop secure? You mention you have netting over the yard. Can things get in from the sides?
  4. mikeksfarmer

    mikeksfarmer Songster

    Sep 16, 2008
    Bonner springs KS
    I would suggest a night time preditor. Bubo virginnenis SP? or Great Horned Owl. They often lighten the load before they fly off. I saw one neatly pick the head of a rabbit off before leaving. Its nesting season for them right now. Proud parents have a big need to provide. I recomend keeping the girls in until full sun and finding a way to cover the pen well. Owls are protected and most likely they are protecting your property from some other pest most of the year. They are just trying to feed the kids right now.
    I am sorry for you loss. I do hope you can protect your girls.
  5. Ms.FuzzyButts

    Ms.FuzzyButts Songster

    Sep 5, 2009
    North Alabama
    My guess would be a weasel / mink... Only because we had ducks when I was growing up and we kept finding nothing more than scattered feathers and the head. We finally caught the bugger in the act!
  6. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    I would agree on the weasle/ mink theory.
    I a problem with one not too long ago.....

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