Predator mystery


In the Brooder
10 Years
Oct 29, 2009
We live in central Iowa. Yesterday between 8am and 1pm - daytime - something killed 6 young chickens, an adult hen and a duckling. They were all loose in the yard which we do when someone is home during the day. The adult hen was plucked - a big pile of feathers laying in a pile, but the body was gone. 3 of the young chickens were gone with no sign of them. 3 were laying dead with no outward sign of death and the duckling was dead with a small puncture wound.

I skinned the 3 young chickens and found about 4 puncture wounds on each, along with bruising that looked like they had been chomped on. One actually had a small chunk of breast muscle taken out of it.

We have plenty of raccoons but in the past they have attacked the heads of the birds and left them visibly seriously wounded. Also, I am under the impression they don't hunt during daylight. We also have a couple wild cats but they are more likely to take a single bird now and again, not 7 at once.

Any thoughts on what might have done this?
Sounds like a dog "playing" with so many killed and feathers plucked and bird missing. Could be a coyote but it will generally take one and go unless its a young one or two. Sorry for your loss.
I kinda think dog but I don't have a lot of confidence in that guess. It could maybe be a fox or coyote teaching her young to hunt, but that doesn't sound just right either. They should not leave any meat behind. These links may help you. You can see things we can't so maybe something in these links will help you.

Oklahoma State – Clues to predators

Clues to Predators thread

Good luck. This sounds like a rough one.
Sounds like a dog to me also. I have had many killed by my neighbors dog. Sometimes, they will take the chickens and other times just leave them. We also had one chicken some how got away from the dog. It took out 3 hens that day and the one hen that got away its head was all bloody. We waited until they roosted that night and my husband went and caught her to check her over and clean the blood off so the other chickens wouldn't attack her either and when got all the blood cleaned off he said there was some puncture marks on her head. Have no clue how she got away from the dog.
Do you think a dog would pluck a bird like that? The big hen had all her smaller feathers plucked and left in a pile. Also, the puncture wounds seemed too small for a dog - at least the type of dogs I see around my place.

Thanks for all your inputs!

yep DOG kill for the fun ,then had one for dinner, coons would eat some off each. Dogs are known for leaving lots of dead birds,
Fox is my guess. Had the same thing happen and shot the fox the next day when she returned for more.
They will kill every bird they can then stash the bodies around to dine on late. If they remember where they buried them before they rot.
Sorry to disagree~~but from the description, I'd have to go with a bird of prey. They hunt during daylight hours. The "pluck" the chicken before/during eating. They probably consumed the hen on site because she was too big to carry off. The little ones though, were lightweight enough to carry away.

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