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Owl attack? driving myself crazy with guilt!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by pipthepeep, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been driving myself absolutely CRAZY trying to replay in my head what might have happened to my sweet litttle hen, so I thought I would get some thoughts from more experienced chicken owners. I think all signs point to pre-sunrise owl ambush attack....

    Gladys had lived as an "only chicken" since I rescued her from my uncle's flock 2 months ago (rooster was extremely aggressive towards her, half her head had been cannabalized and one eye was severely damaged)...she recovered extremely well and adapted to her new life: scratching in the dirt, taking dust baths, laying 5 eggs a week, fearlessly wandering the yard (and the house) and letting herself into the living room at 7 pm to roost on the book case each night. Despite the fact that she seemed perfectly content, I felt like she should at least have the chance to be with other chickens so I re-homed her to a friend's farm with the intention that I would take her back at any time if she didn't adjust well or seem to thrive with the other chickens (only 2 birds). She had been there for a little over a week ( like any good mom, I visited her every day!), when she, in effect, ran away and refused to let my friend catch her one night. Of course, I was out of town at the time. Gladys did not seem to particularly care for the other chickens, and preferred to be off on her own or hang out me when I was there, despite the fact that the other chickens were on the other side of wire and could not get to her-- she just showed zero interest in the flock dynamic.

    By the time I found out Gladys was missing, she had been out for one full night already and had failed to return the next day..I drove the 350 miles home and woke up at 5 am the next morning to attempt to find her. By the time I got to the farm at 6:15, it was already pretty light out (I think sunrise was 6:20 or something). After walking around the perimeter for 15 minutes or so, I looked behind the barn-- and saw her headless body about 5 feet from the building. She was still warm and not stiff, so I can only assume it had happened when she got down from her roost and headed for the barn, presumably pretty soon before I arrived. Talk about GUILT! Anyway, her neck and head were totally devoid of meat but the bones were still there. And nearby (4-5 feet away) directly under a tree (also near a fencepost) was another pile of feathers some in clumps with the flesh still attached.


    I'm thinking owl...does this sound like a reasonable guess? Can anyone tell me anything about how owls actually kill chickens? I know it sounds morbid, but I have been trying to do research so I can at least better understand what happened to her. The hardest part for me is the understanding that this just seems to be a "luxury kill" for the predator to just have eaten her head and neck and left most of the meat. I have worked with livestock for a living in the past, but this is especially difficult for me because, as I now realize, this particular chicken was certainly a pet to me; I tried to do what I felt was best for her by giving her the chance to be with her own species again, but it sadly seems to have backfired:(
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  2. lightchick

    lightchick Overrun With Chickens

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    So sorry for your loss! It must be terrible! It's not your fault! Sounds like it could be a raccoon or owl. I don't think owls normally do that though. I bet she was a sweetie! [​IMG]
     
  3. Howlet

    Howlet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    raccoon or mink/weasel!! they are known for be-heading there victums! u get a stray cat LIVE trap and take it to your local fishing and game preserve place thing and ask the ppl what to do with him/her
     
  4. buckbye

    buckbye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    None of that made any sense.
     
  5. Howlet

    Howlet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i know i dont even understand it anymore O_O
     
  6. Howlet

    Howlet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    what i meant was get one of those cage trap things ppl use for like cats or raccoons ;-; wait nvm x3 they will squeeze through i bet XD and u edited some of dat ;-;
     
  7. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Does anyone else think it might have been an owl? I was reading about raccoon and weasel attacks as well, but she wasn't actually beheaded-- her head was still there, but eaten. Same with her neck. Also I thought raccoons were partial to eating the crop? Her crop was still intact as well. I think young GHOs are starting to hunt on their own this time of year, so I was thinking maybe that makes an owl attack more likely since they are more active as the young are off on their own... Somewhere I came across a post with a picture that looked exactly like my Gladys, let me see if I can find it
     
  8. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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  9. JMarch

    JMarch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the eyes were eaten out, it'd venture to say that it was most likely a hawk. We've lost some bantams to hawks- they'll start with the face and eyes, work down to the neck, and then pick out some breast meat. We came home one day and stepped outside and I scared away a hawk who was having his meal (a cute little bantam rooster)- that's what the body looked like.
     
  10. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the helpful responses. I don't really have any way of knowing exactly what time the attack happened-- I'm assuming early early morning, pre-dawn, as opposed to dusk or overnight, based on the fact that she didn't seem all that stiff by the time I found her and her feet still seemed slightly warm:( ...Of course, I've never had to touch a mauled chicken's body before so I'm not really sure how to estimate time of death based on that. I'm obviously never going to fully know what happened to her, which is definitely worse than being 100% sure because I just keep dwelling on it. Videos I have watched and pictures I have seen of hawk and owl attacks are definitely not helping-- seems like one of the more brutal ways for a chicken to die. ugh.
     

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