Well I Found My Missing Chicken......

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by americanchicks, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. americanchicks

    americanchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2012
    Buckley, Wa
    Hi all,
    So my husband was nice enough to let me sleep in this morning. He woke me up to ask me "How many chickens do you have?" I told him 10 he then said "Well I can only count 9 and there is a lot of feathers in the yard."

    I went out to help him look my15 week BR Camella was missing. indeed there were lots of feathers. Some in the pen (the pen door was open for them to freerange) and some in the yard along with a few spots of blood. I was thinking maybe racoon but there were no feathers in the coop. My hubby said the chickens whrere making a fuss early this morning. I then thought maybe fox or coyote then my hubby saw feathers at the base of the big alder tree looked up. There was Camella what was left. Can't see much just a bunch of feathers however you can see one leg hanging down completely stripped of meat. So now I am thinking hawk.

    Is there any suggestions on how to keep the hens safe from hawk attack. I have read that once a hawk finds a yummy flock they stick around.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    A raccoon could drag a chicken up a tree, too, so I wouldn't rule it out. I believe the MO of a hawk is to kill and eat on the spot. Either way, you need to pen them up for a bit to keep them safe. Even though I primarily free range, I have covered runs attached to both my coops. That way I can pen them up for a few weeks to encourage predators to give up and move on. I can also keep them safe when family comes to visit and bring their dogs. Or if we're going to be gone for a few days - my chicken-sitter (my mom) isn't comfortable letting them free range since a coyote got several of them a couple of years ago when she was doing chores for me. (I kept telling her not to worry about it - she was just doing what I asked, letting them out in the morning and locking them up in the evening. Somewhere in that time, several of them got nabbed.)
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Predators with teeth and fangs, rip, grind, and chew their food into tiny pieces.

    Things like Great Horned Owls, and Eagles on the other hand strip flesh off the bones and leave a mostly complete skeleton.
  4. americanchicks

    americanchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2012
    Buckley, Wa
    Today all seemed fine. Had to leave them home alone today but all 9 where resting in the coop when I got home. Have to do some last min xmas shopping tomorrow so I will be holding my breath till I get back [​IMG]

    We talked about getting the body down to take a look. I snapped this shot yesterday you can see it looks like the leg and thigh has been picked clean.
  5. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2011
    Wright Co Minnesota
    I'm guessing either a large raptor (largest of hawks or eagle) or a feline predator. I've trapped a long time, and never seen raccoons or opossums carry a chicken sized meal up a tree. They tend to cache what they don't eat under brush. A canine will cache and kick dirt on it. The hawks and owls we've lost birds to ate them on the ground.

    Also possible a scavenger, likely turkey vulture, raven, gull or eagle took what was left into the tree after something else killed it. They will commonly cache partial kills in trees.

    Are there any tracks or scat around? Large bird droppings under or on the tree? Do you have bobcat or lynx in your area?
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    I'm agreeing with Ole and Lena, that doesn't sound or look like a hawk kill to me.

    My hawk kills (Coopers and Sharp Shinned and Red Tail) hit them hard on the ground, kill, and then eat the viscerals and head leaving the legs in site, possibly hopping a few feet. They leave the back and wings in a heap on the ground. Feathers are located nearby from the plucking. I have seen them swoop and take a young juvenile/older chick and fly with it, but you've got to have about a 4 to 6 week old chick to have that happen.

    Coon will attack head, often leaving feathers plucked everywhere. My latest bandit drug the chicken a short distance from the coop and ate it on the ground, head and viscerals, leaving back, legs and wings.

    Domestic dogs maul everything and often leave a whole bird. The fun was in the killing.

    So if the original predator was the one that drug it into a tree to eat, I agree that would have to be a larger raptor or something like a Great Horned Owl, but a full sized chicken would be difficult for a GHO to lift. That leaves feline as a possible.

    In our busy holiday rush, I highly, highly recommend locking up your birds at night and/or limiting their range to quartered wired/netted runs. The only times I've lost birds is when I got home late from some function and locked up after dark.

    As to your question about hawks, yes, netting really helps. I've had to string it from tree to tree. I've had some hawk kills even then, but the birds left get really savvy about hawks and it is amazing to see them take cover under the netting when a hawk is prowling. You need to avoid areas without netting that allow a blind drive upon unsuspecting birds.

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