Owl Attack

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,812
32,484
942
British Columbia, Canada
A barred owl just attacked and killed my adult buff duck in our pen this evening at dusk. Ducks go in their house when it starts to get dark and there are plenty of places to hide and take shelter. Part of the roof on the pen was off due to snow breaking it.. 1/4th we hadn’t repaired it yet. We have not had a problem with predators in a year of having them. The owl was smaller than the duck, I had to practically kick it off my duck to make it let go. Was trying to fly away with the duck. We have a bright solar light in there.. surprised it happened in the pen didn’t realize that owls were predators.
looks like it choked and pecked at the neck of the duck. The owl keeps hanging around..
Bad predators, especially Barred Owls. I had one take out 7 of my chickens in two attacks before we were able to take care of it. I was unaware of the problem until the first attack, found a headless body and thought coon. That night when I went to set a live trap using the bodies as bait I found the actual culprit. I was literally just a couple feet from it and poking it with a potato fork trying to get it off the bodies. I set the remaining birds that were housed in that barn up in a different more secure pen. My rooster saved three of his hens by sitting ontop of them in a corner the owl couldn’t easily get into
6D97F058-9A59-4F9C-9D4E-C14E3905CFB7.jpeg

Several months later a freak storm forced me to move bird back into the barn temporarily. I used heavy bird netting and hay bales to crate a temporary shelter that I though would keep them safe. I lost 5 more birds the next morning and the owl wasn’t even really eating them, just taking off their heads. It couldn’t eat that many birds before they would spoil... it had clearly developed a bloodlust sort of killing frenzy. It managed to climb down and pull the bird betting out from the hay bales.

So, chances are quite good it will keep coming back and killing your birds, especially if it was that brazen with you. Find out if they are protected in your area (probably not as a barred, they are agressive, invasive, and detrimental to most native owls here on the west coast) and what your options are for dealing with them (legally, of course) and then get rid of it permanently however you can. Bad Big Birds!!! Ours was actually extremely small as well, under 2lbs, it was just puffing up when I disturbed it, so they are actually a very small and hard to hit target. Talons are like needles! I’ve seen them out in the afternoon here, and both my attack occurred between 7-8am
 

Eggofarms

In the Brooder
Aug 18, 2020
10
30
44
Sorry to hear about your hens. We are still lucky that we have all 9 of our original hens. They are all laying now as well so thankful for that.

We haven't had an issue with the owl since the original post that we know of but it's possible he still tries at night. The only reason we caught this one on camera is because they were in their nesting boxes and we thought they were beginning to lay. We went back and looked at the footage and figured out what happened.

The 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch hardware cloth does a really nice job of keeping predators out. We also have it 1.5 feet around the bottom of the coop/run to keep predators from digging. I also think it's illegal federally in the US to kill any birds of prey except for rare circumstances that have to be approved.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
25,636
17,729
771
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
A barred owl just attacked and killed my adult buff duck in our pen this evening at dusk. Ducks go in their house when it starts to get dark and there are plenty of places to hide and take shelter. Part of the roof on the pen was off due to snow breaking it.. 1/4th we hadn’t repaired it yet. We have not had a problem with predators in a year of having them. The owl was smaller than the duck, I had to practically kick it off my duck to make it let go. Was trying to fly away with the duck. We have a bright solar light in there.. surprised it happened in the pen didn’t realize that owls were predators.
looks like it choked and pecked at the neck of the duck. The owl keeps hanging around..
They will keep hanging around. I don't think you can get rid of them. You have to predator Proof from owls too. Lights don't affect them. They usually only take the head and neck of a bird and leave the rest. I have had a few birds killed by owls over the years. Now I have good heavy duty netting covering all of my pens. When I first put the netting up I ran short so I ordered some online which turned out to be crappy but I put it up anyway. I should have returned it but I thought it would work. Wrong. An Great Horned Owl went through it three times and killed some birds. each time I replaced the netting with more of the crappy netting because at the time that was all I had. I have since replaced it with some good heavy duty netting, I moved them to another coop and put a camera up in that pen. Again the owl went right through the netting, As I previously posted after I replaced the crappy netting with the good netting it tried again but this time got caught. (I posted a picture of it in a previous post). Here is the owl plowing through the crappy netting.
DSCF00031125 01.jpg
DSCF00031125 10.jpg
 

oldhen2345

Crowing
5 Years
Jun 22, 2015
938
3,909
281
East Texas
I have been lucky with my chickens. I live in town, but we have a lot of owls and cooper hawks. I thought owls only hunted at night. I have been outside at 7:30 AM- broad daylight- and the owl was still in the tree waiting for the chickens to come out. Luckily, I had closed the door to the run- it is covered in hardwire cloth and the coop is substantial, all windows covered in hardwire. I had to stand in the yard and wait til the stupid bird gave up before I would let the chickens out. I have to be very careful with my birds, owls land in my trees and call out many nights. Have had friends lose their whole flock to them.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
25,636
17,729
771
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
Sorry to hear about your hens. We are still lucky that we have all 9 of our original hens. They are all laying now as well so thankful for that.

We haven't had an issue with the owl since the original post that we know of but it's possible he still tries at night. The only reason we caught this one on camera is because they were in their nesting boxes and we thought they were beginning to lay. We went back and looked at the footage and figured out what happened.

The 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch hardware cloth does a really nice job of keeping predators out. We also have it 1.5 feet around the bottom of the coop/run to keep predators from digging. I also think it's illegal federally in the US to kill any birds of prey except for rare circumstances that have to be approved.
You can get a special permit for eliminating some birds of prey.
The hardware cloth will work for most folks but my total area for my pens is 12,000 sq ft. This is what I used and has worked great. SUPER STRONG and DURABLE -Tensile Strength: 85/245 LBS per Mesh.
https://www.amazon.com/Aviary-Netti...keywords=aviary+netting&qid=1611586176&sr=8-5
This is the piece I bought to replace the crappy netting with.
IMG_20191221_101158.jpg

I haven't tried this but it seems a little less expensive but the same specs.
https://www.amazon.com/Poultry-Nett...eywords=aviary+netting&qid=1611586083&sr=8-18
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
25,636
17,729
771
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I have been lucky with my chickens. I live in town, but we have a lot of owls and cooper hawks. I thought owls only hunted at night. I have been outside at 7:30 AM- broad daylight- and the owl was still in the tree waiting for the chickens to come out. Luckily, I had closed the door to the run- it is covered in hardwire cloth and the coop is substantial, all windows covered in hardwire. I had to stand in the yard and wait til the stupid bird gave up before I would let the chickens out. I have to be very careful with my birds, owls land in my trees and call out many nights. Have had friends lose their whole flock to them.
Most of the time when I have seen owls it has been around dusk and sometimes at dawn.
A couple of nights ago outside my chick/grow-out coop.
DSCF0002121 03.jpg
DSCF0001621 09.jpg
DSCF0002624 06.jpg
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,812
32,484
942
British Columbia, Canada
Here, (Canada, West Coast in an ecologically sensitive area) the barred owls (specifically) are an invasive (eastern) species, and an exclusion to most of the protections afforded birds of prey. They have been decimating the local Great Grey and Spotted Owl populations. They are not protected here. We no longer have Great Horned Owls in the area thanks to them, and the Spotted, Grey, and Pygmy owls are barely hanging on.

I have zero issues with owls, as long as they are just taking out rodents, but this one specific individual developed a taste for chicken. After the first attack it returned every day for weeks on end, and was actively trying to get into my other more secure pens. My birds being in a predator proof roosting box attatched to a hardware cloth encased run, it didn’t stand a chance. I stopped All free ranging entirely until this individual was dealt with. I now free range again, from more secure overnight housing, but don’t release my birds until Full light, Once the Ravens and Eagles are active. My Ravens do an excellent job of deterring Red Tail Hawks as well.

As I said, find out what you are allowed to do about it and go from there. This will depend on your specific location, and it never hurts to ask your local authorities about it. (One park in one of the cities I lived in was actually trapping and euthanizing these owls to protect other critically endangered bird species) A fully enclosed predator proof run works (they can climb, and as noted tear right through lighter bird netting, and may still find a way around the heavier stuff). If you’re set on Free Ranging, expect some losses. Last year I lost one bird out of 100 that were free ranging, I don’t know what got her, she is just gone. Ways to reduce your losses in free ranging include good watchful Roosters (for chickens) and getting birds “up” (or back into a secure run at least) early, and letting them “out” late.
 

oldhen2345

Crowing
5 Years
Jun 22, 2015
938
3,909
281
East Texas
Here, (Canada, West Coast in an ecologically sensitive area) the barred owls (specifically) are an invasive (eastern) species, and an exclusion to most of the protections afforded birds of prey. They have been decimating the local Great Grey and Spotted Owl populations. They are not protected here. We no longer have Great Horned Owls in the area thanks to them, and the Spotted, Grey, and Pygmy owls are barely hanging on.

I have zero issues with owls, as long as they are just taking out rodents, but this one specific individual developed a taste for chicken. After the first attack it returned every day for weeks on end, and was actively trying to get into my other more secure pens. My birds being in a predator proof roosting box attatched to a hardware cloth encased run, it didn’t stand a chance. I stopped All free ranging entirely until this individual was dealt with. I now free range again, from more secure overnight housing, but don’t release my birds until Full light, Once the Ravens and Eagles are active. My Ravens do an excellent job of deterring Red Tail Hawks as well.

As I said, find out what you are allowed to do about it and go from there. This will depend on your specific location, and it never hurts to ask your local authorities about it. (One park in one of the cities I lived in was actually trapping and euthanizing these owls to protect other critically endangered bird species) A fully enclosed predator proof run works (they can climb, and as noted tear right through lighter bird netting, and may still find a way around the heavier stuff). If you’re set on Free Ranging, expect some losses. Last year I lost one bird out of 100 that were free ranging, I don’t know what got her, she is just gone. Ways to reduce your losses in free ranging include good watchful Roosters (for chickens) and getting birds “up” (or back into a secure run at least) early, and letting them “out” late.
Yes, I agree. I do free range my chickens in a privacy fence enclosed yard (live in town). I listen for the bluejays to pitch a fit- they do when an arial predator is about. I am sure the chickens listen for them too.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,812
32,484
942
British Columbia, Canada
I really only have two or three predators that pressure my flocks, and a live and let live policy for the most part. They live if they let my chicken live... Raccoons, and Barred Owls mostly. I have seen one adult mink in my general area (about 800 feet from my pens in a nearby gulley) and had one attempted hawk strike. My local Ravens mostly keep Hawks at bay. Our Eagles only go for baby lambs, goats and wild ducks. We also have the mink and Otters, although they are more prolific on the other side of the island. The mink mostly are descendants of escapees from an old fur farm, On another nearby island, and are an introduced species.

I started with the intention of not free ranging, ever, having been told horror stories of predators and that any free range chickens “wouldn’t last a day”. With my environment, flock size, and current living situation the size and cost of the pens I would need to house everyone in a completely predator proof run at all times isn’t really an option, and my predator pressures are fairly low. It really comes down to balancing the risks for each individual situation.

Since the Removal of the problem Owl, we have had a Great Grey as a semi regular visitor, and I spotted my first Pygmy Owl since we arrived in 2017. I had seen one in a visit here in 2014 at the other end of the property. We have yet to see or hear a Spotted Owl, which is the most endangered and was the hardest hit by the Barred Owl invasion. The biggest negative is a large Rat moved into our nearby hay barn this winter, that will need trapped.
 

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