What could be doing this?!?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Sassymygirl, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. Sassymygirl

    Sassymygirl Miss Equestrian

    Sep 16, 2008
    Carencro, Louisiana
    Last week or so I came home from the feed store to find my red star hen, Zsa Zsa, dead. She was in the run but her neck looked like it was chewed on or something was trying to pull her through the fence. And it was about 3 O'clock in the afternoon. What could have done this? We have coons and chicken hawks around. [​IMG]
  2. dreamgirl

    dreamgirl Songster

    May 28, 2007
    Hudson Valley, NY
    You should read the sticky in this section on predator identification for more info, but this looked relevant:

    Parts Missing
    A dead bird found inside a fenced enclosure or pen with its head missing is likely the victim of a raccoon that reached in, grabbed the bird, and pulled its head through the wire. Or a bird of prey could have frightened your birds into fluttering against the wire, and those that poked their heads through the wire lost their heads.

    When you find a bird dead inside an enclosure with its head and crop missing, your visitor was a raccoon. If the head and back of the neck are missing, suspect a weasel or mink. If the head and neck are missing, and feathers are scattered near a fence post, the likely perp is a great horned owl.

    Just as a raccoon will reach into a pen and pull off a chicken's head, so will it also pull off a leg, if that's what it gets hold of first. Dogs, too, may prowl underneath a raised pen, bite at protruding feet, and pull off legs.
  3. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    Raccoons are infamous for doing that, and while they prefer to be out and about in the dark or at least the dusk or pre-dawn, they will come out during the daytime.

    Also, it could be fishers, minks, weasels, martins or such like predators. They will come out at anytime of the day or night as long as food is available and they can get in through little openings that they can't get birds out of. (fishers tend to be larger than their cousins, but they are slinky so they can still get into narrow openings) They probably most often go for other parts than the neck, but there's no way to predict everything they'll do.

    If that's all that was done, it sounds like an inexperienced, younger animal. Probably not a hawk though, there'd be back and head wounds very different than what a mammal would do... which is what your description implies. No way would a hawk try to get anything through a fence after all.

    I posted a list of predators and the basics of the damage they do here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=4467957#p4467957 of course, this isn't a perfect list, but I used a lot of personal knowledge, research both from books and the internet, and the knowledge of a couple Department of Fish and Game friends of mine to write it. There of course are many predators who haven't read this so they don't always follow it exactly. Variations are certainly possible! LOL
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  4. MysticScorpio82

    MysticScorpio82 Songster

    May 2, 2009
    Maine, USA
    Sounds like a typical Coon kill. I am so sorry fir your loss! [​IMG]
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Actually, both hawks and raccoons will pull a bird through the fence. I had it happen last year to a duck and thought it was a coon. I found out the next day it was a huge red-tailed hawk. Was the kill site very untidy with feathers scattered all around? That would be a raccoon. If the feathers were neatly piled and the site looked very tidy then that would be a hawk.

    I'm sorry for your loss.

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