Predator identification?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by kjgarrard, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. kjgarrard

    kjgarrard Out Of The Brooder

    11
    0
    22
    Mar 1, 2012
    Lapeer County, Michigan
    Hello, everyone. We have had our "New Hampshire" (Rhode Island Red cross probably from TSC) chickens and rooster, and Khacki Campbell duck and mallards for almost a year now. Now, one month short of the anniversary, we have had our first girl attacked and killed. While they are locked up tight and safe at night, they are free to roam during the day. Yesterday I noticed a hawk hanging around, which isn't unusual. The hawks have made a few attempts at my ducks, but they have always succeeded in getting away, once trampling my 70 pound shepherd [​IMG] (funny to see Milo's surprise, but not so funny for my ducks!). Anyway, the hawks usually don't spend too much time trying for my birds. On the other hand, we spent the first half of the summer "taking care of" our raccoon problem. Since then...all good. Until yesterday. It was business as usual, until I went outside at dusk to close up the coop. While doing my head count, one came up short. I quickly went around the house calling for the girl until I needed a flashlight. After about a half-hour, I found her body behind our cords of stacked wood that we have somewhat under a grouping of blue spruce pines and a few long needle pines. The chickens love to hang in here, perching on the limbs of the long-needle pines, or laying in the holes in the dirt they've made under the blue spruce trees. This is where I found the hens body. There were feathers leading back to where I found her body. Her head and neck were picked clean but in tack, and the side of her body was picked out or eaten down into her breast. All of the muscles between her vertebrae were picked and it looked like her head was picked clean. you could see the structure of her beak and her eyes were gone. I think that a hawk got her, because of her body not being mangled, but my husband doesn't think that a hawk would have went behind the wood stack to eat her. Also, there are no tracks in the little amount of sporadic snow in our yard, so no tracks are visible. Does anyone have an idea? I can post a picture, but don't want to offend anybody. I just want to protect my flock, and if possible deter any other predators. Needless to say, I have the flock locked up tight so they can't leave the coop and the run, but they LOVE being out and about. Looks like the next week will be long for our feathered friends...Thanks in advance.
     
  2. vstoltzfus

    vstoltzfus Chillin' With My Peeps

    199
    2
    111
    Aug 10, 2009
    Lancaster County, PA
    Hmmm. At first I thought fox because of the trail of feathers, but if there's no prints in the snow, then a bird of some sort. Hawk or owl?
     
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,466
    993
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    Definitely a bird of prey.

    Anything with strong jaws and sharp teeth would have just chewed off the entire head and gulped it down. A predator of this type would not have taken the time to daintily pluck each eye ball out of the head.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  4. I would think a bird of prey too, but I don't think they would precisely pick out the muscles between the vertebrae and leave the spine intact. I'd think a weasel or opossum. Precise fingers. A pic would help, but put on the title of this thread " WARNING: Graphic pics "
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by